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Mrs. Richard Jones 

Jk* «Jfc* *• * ■ 3— t J* 

>/.:// ,.^/> /^£? 

#15 CnsteJ) Cjjronidea, 







BY J. A. GILES, D.C.L.. 





<o 1313 

[B'pnnta? /row Stereotype platet.] 



Of the present volume it will be sufficient to inform th 
reader that it contains Six Chronicles, all relating to the 
history of this country before the Norman Conquest, and 
all of essential importance to those who like to study history 
in the very words of contemporary writers. 

We will at once proceed to enumerate them severally. 


The short chronicle, which passes under the name of 
Ethelwerd, contains few facts which are not found in the 
Saxon Chronicle its precursor. Of the author we know no 
more than he has told us in his work. " Malmesbury calls 
him ' noble and magnificent' with reference to his rank ; for 
he was descended from king Alfred : but he forgets his pecu- 
liar praise — that of being the only Latin historian for twe 
centuries ; though, like Xenophon, Caesar, and Alfred, ht 
wielded the sword as much as the pen."* 

Ethelwerd dedicated his work to, and indeed wrote it for 
the use of his relation Matilda, daughter of Otho the Great, 
emperor of Germany, by his first empress Edgitha or 
Editha; who is mentioned in the Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 
925, though not by name, as given to Otho by her brother, 
king Athelstan. Ethelwerd adds, in his epistle to Matilda, 
that Athelstan sent two sisters, in order that the emperor 
might take his choice ; and that he preferred the mother of 

The chronology of Ethelwerd is occasionally a year or two 
•t variance with other authorities. The reader will be. 

* Ingram, p. viil note 



guided in reckoning the dates, not by the heading of each 
paragraph, a.d. 891, 975, &c., but by the actual words of the 
author inserted in the body of the text. 

I have translated this short chronicle from the original 
text as well as I was able, and as closely as could be to the 
author's text ; but I am by no means certain of having always 
succeeded in hitting on his true meaning, for such is the ex- 
traordinary barbarism of the style, that I believe many an 
ancient Latin classic, if he could rise from his grave, would 
attempt in vain to interpret it. 


This work is ascribed, on its own internal authority, to 
Asser, who is said to have been bishop of St. David's, 
of Sherborne or of Exeter, in the time of king Alfred. 
Though most of the public events recorded in this book 
are to be found in the Saxon Chronicle, yet for many 
interesting circumstances in the life of our great Saxon 
king we are indebted to this biography alone. But, as if no 
part of history is ever to be free from suspicion, or from 
difficulty, a doubt has been raised concerning the authenticity 
of this work.* There is also another short treatise called the 
Annals of Asser, or the Chronicle of St. Neot, different from 
the present : it is published in vol. iii. of Gale and Fell's 
Collection of Historians. And it has been suspected by a 
living writer that both of these works are to be looked upon 
as compilations of a later date. The arguments upon which 
this opinion is founded are drawn principally from the ab- 
rupt and incoherent character of the work before us. But 
we have neither time nor space to enter further into this 
question. As the work has been edited by Petrie, so has it 
been here translated, and the reader, taking it upon its own 
merits, will find therein much of interest about our glorious 
king, concerning whom he will lament with me that all we 
know is so little, so unsatisfying. 

• See Wright's Biographia Literaria Anglo-Saxonica, p. 405. Dr. Lin- 
gard, however, in his recent work on the History and Antiquities of the 
Anglo-Saxon Church, vol. ii. pp. 424 — 428, has replied to Mr. Wright* 
objections, and vindicated the authenticity of Asser's Life. 


Chap. HI.— GILDAS. 

Of Gildas, tne supposed author of the third work con- 
tained in this volume, little or nothing is known. Mr. Ste- 
venson, in the preface to his edition of the original Latin, 
lately published by the English Historical Society, says : 
" We are unable to speak with certainty as to his parentage, 
his country, or even his name, the period when he lived, or 
the works of which he was the author." Such a statement 
is surely sufficient to excuse us at present from saying more 
on the subject, than that he is supposed to have lived, and to 
have written what remains under his name, during some part 
of the sixth century. There are two legends* of the life of 
St. Gildas, as he is termed, but both of them abound with 
such absurdities that they scarcely deserve to be noticed in 
a serious history. Of the present translation, the first or 
historic half is entirely new ; in the rest, consisting almost 
entirely of texts from Scripture, the translator has thought it 
quite sufficient to follow the old translation of Habington, 
correcting whatever errors he could detect, and in some 
degree relieving the quaint and obsolete character of the 
language. It has been remarked by Polydore Virgil, that 
Gildas quotes no other book but the Bible ; and it may be 
added, that his quotations are in other words than those of 
the Vulgate or common authorized translation. The title of 
the old translation is as follows : " The Epistle of Gildas the 
most ancient British Author : who flourished in the yeere 
of our Lord, 546. And who by his great erudition, sanc- 
titie, and wisdome, acquired the name of Sapiens. Faithfully 
translated out of the originall Latine." London, 12mo. 1638. 

Chap. IV.— NENNIUS. 

The History of the Britons, which occupies the fourth 
place in this volume is generally ascribed to Nennius, but 
so little is known about the author, that we have hardly any 
information handed down to us respecting him except this 
mention of his name. It is also far from certain at what 
period the history was written, and the difference is no less 
than a period of two hundred years, some assigning the 

* Both these works are given in the appendix to the editor's " History 
of the Ancient Britons.*' 


work to seven hundred and ninety-rix, and others to nine 
hundred and ninety-four. The recent inquiries of Mr. 
Stevenson, to be found in the Preface to his new edition of 
the original Latin, render it unnecessary at present to delay 
the reader's attention from the work itself. The present trans- 
lation is substantially that of the Rev. W. Gunn, published 
with the Latin original in 1819, under the following title : 
" The * Historia Britonum,' commonly attributed to Nennius ; 
from a manuscript lately discovered in the library of the 
Vatican Palace at Borne : edited in the tenth century, by 
Mark the Hermit ; with an English version, fac-simile of the 
original, notes and illustrations." The kindness of that gentle- 
man has enabled the present editor to reprint the whole, with 
only a few corrections of slight errata, which inadvertency 
alone had occasioned, together with the two prologues and 
several pages of genealogies, which did not occur in the 
MS. used by that gentleman. 


Geoffrey, surnamed of Monmouth, is celebrated in English 
literature as the author, or at least the translator, of Historia 
Britonum, a work from which nearly all our great vernacu- 
lar poets have drawn the materials for some of their noblest 
works of fiction and characters of romance. He lived in 
the early part of the twelfth century, and in the year 1152 
was raised to the bishopric of St. Asaph. 

The first of his writings, in point of time, was a Latin 
translation of the Prophecies of Merlin, which he undertook 
at the request of Alexander bishop of Lincoln. His next 
work was that on which his fame principally rests, the His- 
toria Britonum, dedicated to Robert, duke of Gloucester, 
who died in 1147. Into this second work he inserted the 
Latin translation above-mentioned, which now appears as 
the seventh book of Historia Britonum. A third composi- 
tion has also been ascribed to Geoffrey, entitled Vita MerUni, 
in Latin hexameter verse : but the internal evidence which it 
affords, plainly proves that it is the work of a different author. 

Although the list of our Chroniclers may be considered 
as complete, without the addition of this work, yet we 
have thought it worthy of a place in our series for many 
reasons. It is not for historical accuracy that the book be- 

fore us is valuable ; for the great mass of scholars have come 
to the decided conviction that it is full of fables. But it is 
the romantic character which pervades the narrative, together 
with its acknowledged antiquity, which make it desirable 
that the book should not sink into oblivion. Those who 
desire to possess it as a venerable relic of an early age, will now 
. have an opportunity of gratifying their wish ; whilst others, 
who despise it as valueless, in their researches after historic 
truth, may, nevertheless, find some little pleasure in the tales 
of imagination which it contains. 

Hie value of this work is best evinced by the attention 
which was paid to it for many centuries ; Henry of Hunt- 
ingdon made an abstract of it, which he subjoined as an 
appendix to his history: and Alfred of Beverley, a later 
writer, in his abridgment of this work which still exists, 
has omitted Geoffrey's name,, though he calls the author of 
the original, Britannicus. 

An English translation of the work was first published by 
Aaron Thompson, of Queen's College, Oxford, [8vo. Lond. 
1718,] and lately revised and reprinted by the editor of this 
volume. [8vo. Lond. 1842.] A long preface is prefixed to 
' that translation, wherein the author endeavoured to prove 
Geoffrey of Monmouth to be a more faithful historian than 
he is generally considered to be. His words are as follow : 
— " I am not unsensible that I expose myself to the censures 
of some persons, by publishing this translation of a book, 
which they think had better been suppressed and buried in 
oblivion, as being at present generally exploded for a ground- 
less and fabulous story, such as our modern historians think 
not worthy relating, or at least mention with contempt. And 
though it is true, several men, and those of learning too, 
censure this book who have but little considered it, and 
whose studies no ways qualify them to judge of it ; yet, I 
own this consideration has for a long time deterred me from 
publishing it : and I should not at last have been able to 
surmount this difficulty, without the importunity and en- 
couragement of others, to whom I owe a singular regard. I 
had indeed before I entered upon the work perused the prin- 
cipal writers both for and against this history, the effect of 
which upon my own judgment, as to the swaying it to the 
one side more than the other, was but very small; and I 


most confess, that I find the most learned antiquaries the 
most modest in their opinions concerning it, and that it seems 
to me to be a piece of great rashness, to judge peremptorily 
upon a matter, whereof at this great distance of time there 
are no competent witnesses on either side. At least I can- 
not but think it a sufficient apology for my publishing this 
book, to consider only, that though it seems to suffer under a 
general prejudice at present, yet it has not long done so ; 
but that upon its first appearing in the world, it met with 
a universal approbation, and that too, from those who had 
better opportunities of examining the truth of it, as there 
were then more monuments extant, and the traditions more 
fresh and uncorrupted concerning the ancient British affairs, 
than any critics of the present age can pretend to ; that it 
had no adversary before William of Newburgh about the 
end of the reign of Richard the First, whose virulent invec- 
tive against it, we are told, proceeded from a revenge he 
thought he owed the Welsh for an affront they had given 
him ; that his opposition was far from shaking the credit of 
it with our succeeding historians, who have, most of them, 
till the beginning of the last century, confirmed it with their 
testimonies, and copied after it, as often as they had occasion 
to treat of the same affairs : that its authority was alleged by 
king Edward the First and all the nobility of the kingdom, 
in a controversy of the greatest importance, before Boniface 
the Eighth ; that even in this learned age, that is so indus- 
trious to detect any impostures, which through the credulity 
of former times had passed upon the world, the arguments 
against this history are not thought so convincing, but that 
several men of equal reputation for learning and judgment 
with its adversaries, have written in favour of it ; that very 
few have at last spoken decisively against it, or absolutely 
condemned it ; and that it is still most frequently quoted by 
our most learned historians and antiquaries. All these con- 
siderations, I say, if they do not amount to an apology for the 
history itself, show at least that it deserves to be better 
known than at present it is ; which is sufficient to justify my 
undertaking the publishing of it." 

It is unnecessary in the present day to prove that king 
Brute is a shadowy personage, who never existed but in the 
regions of romance : but as the reader may justly expect to 


find in this place soma account of the controveray which hat 
existed respecting this work, the following remarks will not 
be deemed inappropriate. There seems no good reason for 
supposing that Geoffrey of Monmouth intended to deceive 
the world respecting the history of which he professed to be 
the translator ; and it may be readily conceived that he did 
no more than fulfil the task which he had undertaken, 
of rendering the book into Latin out of the original language. 
But those who, even as late as the beginning of the last 
century, supported the authenticity of the history, have 
grounded their opinions on such arguments as the following : — 

1. That, upon its first appearance in the world, the book 
met with universal approbation, and that too from those who 
had better opportunities of examining the truth of it, as 
there were then more monuments extant, and the traditions 
were more fresh and uncorrupted, concerning the ancient 
British affairs, than any critics of the present age can pre- 
tend to. 

2. That except William of Newburgh, about the end o'.. 
the reign of Richard I, it met with no opponents even down 
to the seventeenth century, but was, on the contrary, quoted 
by all, in particular by Edward I, in a controversy before 
Boniface the Eighth. 

3. That we see in this history the traces of venerable 

4. That the story of Brute, and the descent of the Britons 
from the Trojans, was universally allowed by Giraldus Cam- 
brensis and others, and was opposed for the first time by 
John of Wethamstede, [Nicolson's Eng. Hist. Lit. 2nd ed. 
p. 1, c. v.] who lived in the 15th century : that Polydore 
Virgil's contempt for it proceeded from his wish to preserve 
unimpaired the glory of the Romans, and Buchanan's observ- 
ations betray his ignorance of the story. 

5. That Leland, who lived under Henry the Eighth, 
Humphrey Lhwyd, Sir John Price, Dr. Caius, Dr. Powel, 
and others, have supported the story of Brute, etc 

Such arguments may have satisfied the credulous students 
of the seventeenth century, but the more enlightened criti- 
cism of the present day will no longer listen to them. It 
may not, however, be uninteresting to hear the account which 
Thompson, the English translator gives of this work, which, 

Jtii 7RETA0E. 

in his own words, and with his additional remarks upon it» 
is as follows : — " The story, as collected from himself* Leland, 
Bale, and Pitts, is that Walter Mapes, alias Calenius, arch- 
deacon of Oxford, who flourished in the reign of Henry I, 
and of whom Henry of Huntingdon, and other historians as 
well as Geoffrey himself, make honourable mention, being a 
man very curious in the study of antiquity, and a diligent 
searcher into ancient libraries, and especially after the works 
of ancient authors, happened while he was in Armorica to 
light upon a History of Britain, written in the British 
tongue, and carrying marks of great antiquity. And being 
overjoyed at it, as if he had found a vast treasure, he in a 
short time after came over to England ; where inquiring for a 
proper person to translate this curious but hitherto unknown 
book, he very opportunely met with Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
a man profoundly versed in the history and antiquities of 
Britain, excellently skilled in the British tongue, and withal 
(considering the time,) an elegant writer both in verse and 
prose ; and so recommended this task to him. Accordingly, 
Geoffrey, being incredibly delighted with this ancient book, 
undertook the translating of it into Latin, which he performed, 
with great diligence, approving himself, according to Matthew 
Paris, a faithful translator. At first he divided it into four 
books, written in a plain simple style, and dedicated it to 
Robert, earl of Gloucester, a copy whereof is said* to be at 
Bennet College, in Cambridge, which was never yet pub- 
lished ; but afterwards he made some alterations and divided 
it into eight books, to which he added the book of Merlin's 
Prophecies, which he had also translated from British verse 
into Latin prose, prefixing to it a preface, and a letter 
to Alexander, bishop of Lincoln. A great many fabulous 
and trifling stories are inserted in the history : but that was 
not his fault ; his business as a translator was to deliver 
them faithfully such as they were, and leave them to the 
judgment of the learned to be discussed. 

" To prove the truth of this relation, and to answer at 
once all objections against Geoffrey's integrity, one needs no 
other argument than, an assurance that the original manuscript 
which Geoffrey translated, of whose antiquity the curious 
are able to judge in a great measure by the character, or any 
• See Pitts and Vow. 


ancient and authentic copy of it, is jet extant. And in- 
deed, archbishop Usher* mentions an old Welsh Chronicle 
in the Cottonian Library, that formerly was in the possession 
of that learned antiquary, Humphrey Lhwyd, which he says 
is thought to be that which Goffrey translated. But if that 
be the original manuscript, it must be acknowledged that 
Geoffrey was not merely a translator, but made some addi- 
tions of his own : since, as that most learned prelate informs 
us, the account that we have in this History of the British 
Flamens, and Archflamens, is nowhere to be found in it. 
But besides this, there are several copies of it in the Welsh 
tongue, mentioned by the late ingenious and learned Mr. 
Lhwyd in his ' Archaeologia Britannica.' And I myself 
have met with a manuscript history of our British affairs, 
written above a hundred years ago by Mr. John Lewis, and 
shortly to be published, wherein the author says, that he had 
the original of the British History in parchment written in 
the British tongue before Geoffrey's time, as he concludes 
from this circumstance, that in his book Geoffrey's preface was 
wanting, and the preface to his book was the second chapter 
of that published by Geoffrey. My ignorance of the Welsh 
tongue renders me unqualified for making any search into 
these matters ; and though the search should be attended with 
never so much satisfaction, to those who are able to judge of 
the antiquity of manuscripts, yet to the generality of readers, 
other arguments would perhaps be more convincing." 

The passages which we have here quoted at length, will 
give the reader the most ample information concerning the 
nature of the question, and it only remains to inform the 
reader what is my own opinion on this long-agitated literary 

To those who have read the plain and simple statements 
of Julius Caesar and the other classic historians who have 
described the early state of Britain, it will be morally certain 
that all such accounts as we have in Geoffrey of Monmouth 
are purely fabulous. The uncertainty of every thing, save 
the bare fact, connected with the siege of Troy, is so great, 
that to connect its fortunes with those of a distant and at 
that time unheard-of island like Britain, can be admissible 
only in the pages of romance. But in the latter part of the 
* Brit. EccL Ptim. cap. 5. 


work which contains the history of Britain, daring its con- 
quest by the Saxons, we may possibly find the germs o* 
facts unnoticed elsewhere. 

This view does not militate against the veracity of Geoffrey, 
who professes to have translated from an original in the 
British language, but whether any manuscript copy of this 
original now exists, is a point which has not been satisfac- 
torily ascertained. In 1811, the Rev. Peter Roberts pub** 
lished the Chronicle of the Kings of Britain, translated from 
Welsh manuscripts, and being in substance almost identically 
the same as Geoffrey's History of the Britons, — but it is most 
likely that these Welsh MS 8., which are all comparatively 
modern, are themselves re-translations from the Latin of 

If no other arguments could be adduced to prove the utter 
incredibility of the earlier parts of this history, the following 
Chronological Table would furnish quite sufficient arguments 
to establish it, by the extraordinary anachronisms which it con* 
tains. For instance, between the reigns of Brutus and Leil, is 
an interval of 156 years ; and yet Geoffrey makes the capture 
of the ark contemporaneous with the reign of Brutus, and 
the building of Solomon's temple with that of Leil. Now 
the interval between these two events cannot by any possi- 
bility be extended beyond eighty years. It is, moreover, 
impossible to bring the chronology of the British kings them* 
selves into harmony with the dates before Christ, as there 
is no mention made of the exact interval between the taking 
of Troy and Brutus's landing in Britain. 

Geoffrey inscribes his work to Robert, earl of Gloucester, 
son of Henry the Second. 


ZZ JEneas zz Lavinia ( ) 


Sylvius = (Niece of Lavinia). I. 3. 

Ptandrasus I 

Ignoge = 1. Brutus at the age of 15 kins his father. (I. 3.) Reigns twenty* 
I four years. (II. I.) 

I At this time Eli governed Israel, and the ark wis taken b> 


the Philistines, and the sons of Hector reigned in Turf 
and Sylvius JEneas, uncle of Brutus, in Italy. (1. 17.) 

— — — — -^ ^ 

I Corinaras Albanact Kaxnber II. 1. 

3. Locrin =: 3. Guendolcena ( Locrin by Eatrilda baa Sabre, who being 
t. 10 yrs. | 15 years. < drowned in the Severn, gives name to 

( thatnrer. 

4. Maddan. II. 6. f At Vhis time Samuel governed Israel, an* 
40 yrs. \ Homer flourished. 

6. Hempricius Malim C Saul reigns in Judaea, Eurystheus in La:e- 

20 yrs. t daemon. 

Ebraucus ( ^ Day5d _Sy lviu8 Latinus— Gad— Na- 

J0,^,II.7,8) ( thanandAsaph. 


M „ — 
(or 60, quarre, II. 7, 8) 

7. Brutus IL, 12 yrs. and 19 other sons and 80 daughters, II. 8. 

8. Leil 5 Solomon — Queen of Sheba— Sylvius Epi- 

25yrs. ( tus. 


9. Hudibras Capys— Haggai— Amos— Joel— Asariah. 

89 yrs. 

10. Bladud Elijah. 

20 yrs. II. 10. 


60 yrs. II. 11. 

tus, Regan ZzHenuinus, Cordeilla=: Aganippus, 
D. of K. of 

Cornwall. GauL 

Margan 13. Cunedagius (Isaiah — Hosea— Bomebuilt 

83 vrs. ( by Romulus and Remus. 



] * 
16. Gurgustius ( ) 

16. Sisrilius 17. Jago 




18. KiamarcDi 

19. Gorbogudo — Widen 



Long civil wart. 

At length arose Dunwallo Molmutius, son of Cloten, long of 
Cornwall. II. 17. 

20. Dunwallo Molmutius =: Conwenna 
40yrs. | 


21. Belinus 

5 yrs. in concert with Brennius. 

22. Gurgiunt Brabtruc. III. 11. 

23. Guithelin = Martia 



24. Sisillius 

25. Kimarus 26. Danius 


27. Morvidus 

28. Gorbonian 29. Arthgallo 30. Elidure 31.Vigenius 32. Peredure 

Arthgallo was deposed in favour of Elidure, who, after a 
reign of five yean, restored his brother, who reigned 10 
years afterwards. Elidure then reigned a second time 
but was deposed by Vigenius and Peredure ; after whose 
deaths *e reigned a thud time. 

33. Gorbonian's 
son, III. 19. 


34. Margan 

35. Enniaunus 

36. Idwallo 37. Runno 

38. Geruntius 

40. Coillns 

39. CateUus 
41. Porrex 

42. Cherin 

48. Fulgenius 

44. Eldadus 

45. Andragsui 
46. Urianas 

FRBFAOB. xvii 

47. Hrad 48. Cledaucus 49. Cletonus 50. Guigintius 51. Meriaius 
52.Bleduno 53. Cap 54.0enus 55. Sisillius 

•56, Blegabred 57. Arthmail 

58.Eldol 59. Redion 60. Rederchius 61. Samuilpenissel 62. Pir 

63. Capoir IIL 19. 

64. Cligueillus 


66. Lnd. III. 20 67. Cassibellaun Nemiini 

Casar's invasion took place during Cassibellaun's reign. 

68. Tenuantius 

| ( Jesus Christ is born in the 

69. Kymbelinus < reign of Kymbelinus of 

I( Cymbeline. 

70* Guiderius 71. Arviragus =z Genuissa 

72. Marius 

73. Colllus 

74. Lucius IV. 19. 
Lucius embraces Christianity : he dies, ajk 156. 

75. Sererus 

76. BassianuB or Caracaila 

77. Carausius, V. 8. 78. Allectus 

79. Asclepiodotus 80. Coel 

Helena ZZ 81 Constantius 
r. 11 yrs. 

82. Constantino, emperor of Roma 
$1. Octsvius assumes the crown of Britain. 
(Daughter) = 84. Maxhnian, V. 1 1. 

xviii fBKPAOB. 

85. Gratia* Munioipg 

At thk time the Picts and Scots harass the Batons, who apply to the 

86. Constantine, prince of Armorica, comef to assist the Britons 

87. Constans 89. Aurehus Ambrosius 90. Utherpendragon = Ij 

VIII. 2. VIII. 17. "~ 

88. Vortigern usurps the throne (VI. 9) and calls in the 


II. 19. 

90. Arthur IX. 1. Anne 
King Arthur dies, aj>. 542 (XL 3.) 
92. Constantine 93. Aurelius Conan 94. Wortiporius 95. Malgo 
96. Careticus 97. Gadwan 

Peanda (sister) = 98. Cadwallo 

99. Cadwallader 

Cadwallader goes to Rome, where he is confirmed in the faith of Christ by 
pope Sergius, and dies ▲. d. 689. 


Richard, surnamed from his birth-place Richard of Ciren- 
cester, flourished from the middle to the latter end of the 
fourteenth century. No traces of his family or connections 
can be discovered ; though they were at least of respectable 
condition, for he received an education which in his time was 
far beyond the attainment of the inferior ranks of society. 
In 1350 he entered into the Benedictine monastery of St. 
Peter, Westminster, during the abbacy of Nicholas de Lytling- 
ton, as appears from the rolls of the abbey ; and his name 
occurs in various documents of that establishment in the 
years 1387, 1397, and 1399. 

He devoted his leisure hours to the study of British and 
Anglo-Saxon history and antiquities, in which he made such 
proficiency that he is said to have been honoured with the 
name of the Historiographer. Pitts informs us, without 


specifying his authority, that Richard visited different libra- 
ries and ecclesiastical establishments in England in order to 
collect materials. It is at least certain that he obtained a 
licence to visit Rome, from his abbat, William of Colchester, 
in 1391 ; and there can be little doubt that a man of so in- 
dustrious, observant, and sagacious a character profited by 
this journey to extend his historical and antiquarian know- 
ledge, and to augment his collections. This license is given 
by Stukeley from the communication of Mr. Widmore, libra- 
rian of Westminster, and bears honourable testimony to the 
morals and piety of our author, and his regularity in per- 
forming the discipline of his order. He probably performed 
this journey in the interval between 1391 and 1397, for he 
appears to have been confined in the abbey infirmary in 
1401, and died in that or the following year. His remains 
were doubtlessly interred in the cloisters of the abbey, but we 
cannot expect to find any memorial of a simple monk. We 
have abundant cause to regret that he was restrained in the 
pursuit of his favourite studies, by the authority of his abbat. 
In the seventh chapter of his first book he enters into a 
spirited justification of himself, but from the preface to his 
chronology he appears to have found it necessary to submit 
his better judgment to the will of his superior. His works 
are — ffistoria ab Hengisto ad Ann. 1348, in two parts. 
The first contains the period from the coming of the Saxons 
to the death of Harold, and is preserved in the public library 
or the University of Cambridge, Ff. i. 28. Whitaker, the 
historian of Manchester, thus speaks of it : — " The hope of 
meeting with discoveries as great in the Roman, British, 
and Saxon history as he has given us concerning the pre- 
ceding period, induced me to examine the work. But my 
expectations were greatly disappointed. The learned scholar 
and the deep antiquarian I found sunk into an ignorant 
novice, sometimes the copier of Huntingdon, but generally 
the transcriber of Geoffrey. Deprived of his Roman guides, 
Richard showed himself as ignorant and as injudicious as 
any of his illiterate contemporaries about him. w * 

The second part is probably a manuscript contained in the 
library of the Royal Society, p. 137, with the title of Brito- 
uum Anglorum et Saxonum Histaria. In the library of 
* Hist, of Manchester, vol. i. p. 58. 4to. 


Bennet Coll. Cambridge, is Epitome Ckron. Ric. Cor. West. 
Lib. I. Other works of our author are supposed to be pre* 
served in the Lambeth Library, and at Oxford. 

His theological writings were — Traetatus super Symbo- 
lum Majus et Minus, and Liber de Officiis Ecclesiasticis. — In 
the Peterborough Library. 

But the treatise to which Richard owes his celebrity is 
that now presented to the reader. Its first discoverer was 
Charles Julius Bertram, Professor of the English Language 
in the Royal Marine Academy at Copenhagen, who trans- 
mitted to the celebrated antiquary, Doctor Stukeley, a tran- 
script of the whole in letters, together with a copy of the 
map. From this transcript Stukeley published an analysis 
of the work, with the Itinerary, first in a thin quarto, in 
1757, and afterwards in the second volume of his Itinera" 
rium Curiosum. In the same year the original itself was 
published by Professor Bertram at Copenhagen, in a small 
octavo volume, with the remains of Gildas and Nennius, 
under this title — Britannicarum Gentium Historic An* 
tiquce Scriptores tres: Ricardus CoHnensis, Gildas Bado* 
nicies, Nennius Banchorensis, &c. Of this treatise Ber- 
tram thus speaks in his preface : " The work of Richard 
of Cirencester, which came into my possession in an extra- 
ordinary manner with many other curiosities, is not entirely 
complete, yet its author is not to be classed with the most 
inconsiderable historians of the middle age. It contains 
many fragments of a better time, which would now in vain 
be sought for elsewhere ; and all are useful to the antiquary 
***** It is considered by Dr. Stukeley, and those who 
have inspected it, as a jewel, and worthy to be rescued 
from destruction by the press. From respect for him I have 
caused it to be printed." 

Of the map Bertram observes : " I have added a very 
antient map of Roman Britain, skilfully drawn according to 
the accounts of the ancients, which in rarity and antiquity 
excels the rest of the Commentary of Richard." 

This map, however, as no longer of use in an age when 
so much light has been thrown on its subject has been 



OUR LORD 875. 


To Matilda, the most eloquent and true handmaid of Christ, 
Ethelwerd the patrician, health in the Lord ! I have re- 
ceived, dearest sister, your letter which I longed for, and I 
not only read it with kisses, but laid it up in the treasury of • 
my heart. Often and often do I pray the grace of the Most 
High, to preserve you in safety during this life present, and 
after death to lead you to his everlasting mansions. But as 
I once before briefly hinted to you by letter, I now, with 
God's help, intend to begin in the way of annals from the 
beginning of the world, and explain to you more fully about 
our common lineage and descent, to the end that the reader's 
task may be lightened, and the pleasure of the hearer may 
be augmented, whilst he listens to it. Concerning the coming 
of our first parents out of Germany into Britain, their num- 
berless wars and slaughters, and the dangers which they en- 
countered on ship-board among the waves of the ocean, in 
the following pages you will find a full description. In the 
present letter therefore I have written, without perplexity of 
style, of our modern lineage and relationship, who were our 
relations, and how, and where they came from : as far as our 
memory can go, and according as our parents taught us. For 
instance king Alfred was son of king Ethelwulf, from whom 
we derive our origin, and who had five sons, one of whom 
was king Ethelred* my ancestor, and another king Alfred 

• Etholred died and Alfred succeeded him a. d. 871* 


2 ETHEL WERDS CHRONICLE. .a. j>. 430u 

whc was yours. This king Alfred sent his daughter Ethels- 
witha into Germany to be the wife of Baldwin,* who had by 
her two sons Ethelwulf and Arnulf, also two daughters Els- 
wid and Armentruth. Now from Ethelswitha is descended 
count Arnulf,f your neighbour. The daughter of king 
Edward son of the above named king Alfred was named 
Edgiva, and was sent by your aunt into Gaul to marry 
Charles the Simple. Ethilda also was sent to be the wife of 
Hugh, son of Robert : and two others were sent by king 
Athelstan to Otho that he might choose which of them he 
liked best to be his wife. He$ chose Edgitha, from whom 
you derive your lineage ; and united the other in marriage 
to a certain king§ near the Jupiterean Mountains, of whose 
family no memorial has reached us, partly from the distance 
and partly from the confusion of the times. It is your 
province to inform us of these particulars, not only from your 
relationship, but also because no lack of ability or interval 
of space prevents you.|| 



The beginning of the world comes first. For on the first 
day God, in the apparition of the light, created the angels : 
on the second day, under the name of the firmament he 
created the heavens ; &c. &c.T 

Rome was destroyed by the Goths in the eleven hundred 
and forty-sixth year after it was built. From that time the 
Roman authority ceased in the island of Britain, and in 
many other countries which they had held under the yoke of 
slavery. For it was now four hundred and eighty-five years, 

* Baldwin, count of Flanders died a. d. 918. See Malmesbury, p. 121. 

+ Arnulf, count of Flanders, a. d. 965. 

X The emperor Otho married Edgitha a. d. 930. 

§ Lewis the blind. 

|| The writer adds the barbarous verse, " Esto mihi valens cunctis pei- 
henniter horis," which is as easy to construe as to scan. 

If Here follow several pages, in which the writer, like otner annalist*, 
deduces his history from the creation. It is now universally the custom 
with modern writers and translators to omit such preliminary matter. 


beginning with Caius Julius Caesar, that they had held the 
island above mentioned, wherein they had built cities and 
castles, bridges and streets of admirable construction, which 
are seen among us even to the present day. But whilst the 
people of Britain were living carelessly within the w»ll, 
which had been built by Severus to protect them, there arose 
two nations, the Picts in the north and the Scots in the west, 
and leading an army against them, devastated their country, 
and inflicted many sufferings upon them for many years. 
The Britons being unable to bear their misery, by a wise 

device send to Rome a mournful letter* the army 

returned victorious to Rome. But the Scots and Picts, 
hearing that the hostile army was gone, rejoiced with no little 
joy. 4g a i n tne y take up arms, and like wolves attack the 
sheepfoid which is left without a protector : they devastate 
the northern districts as far as the ditch of Severus : the 
Britons man the wall and fortify it with their arms ; but 
fortune denied them success in the war. The cunning Scots, 
knowing what to do against the high wall and the deep 
trench, contrive iron goads with mechanical art, and drag- 
ging down those who were standing on the wall, slay them 
without mercy : they remain victors both within and with- 
out ; they at once plunder and take possession ; and a 
slaughter is made worse than all that had been before. Thus 
ended the four hundred and forty-fourth year since the in- 
carnation of our Lord 

The Britons, seeing themselves on every side vanquished, 
and that they could have no more hopes from Rome, devise, 
m their agony and lamentations, a plan to adopt. For in 
those days they heard, that the race of the Saxons were 
active, in piratical enterprises, throughout the whole coast, 
from the river Rhine to the Danish city, J which is now com- 
monly called Denmark, and strong in all matters connected 
with war. They therefore send to them messengers, bearing 
gifts, and ask assistance, promising them their alliance when 
they should be at peace. But the mina of that degraded 
race was debased by ignorance, and they saw not that they 

• There is evidently a hiatus in this passage, but see Bede i. 13, p. 22 
+ Urto, " city," seems heie rather to designate country or territory. 
B 2 


were preparing for themselves perpetual slavery, which is 
the stepmother of all misfortune. 

The person who especially gave this counsel was Vurth- 
ern,* who at that time was king over all, and to him all th* 
nobility assented. They preferred to procure assistance to 
them from Germany. Already two young men, Hengist 
and Horsa, were pre-eminent. They were the grandsons 
of Woden, king of the barbarians, whom the pagans have 
since raised to an abominable dignity, and honouring him as 
a god, offer sacrifice to him for the sake of victory or valour, 
and the people, deceived, believe what they see, as is their 
wont. The aforesaid youths therefore arrive, according to 
the petition of the king and his senate, with three vessels, 
loaded with arms, and prepared with every kind of warlike 
stores : the anchor is cast into the sea, and the ships come to 
land. Not long afterwards they are sent against the Scots 
to try their mettle, and without delay they sheathe their 
breasts in arms, and engage in a novel mode of battle. Man 
clashes with man, now falls a German and now a Scot : on 
both sides is a most wretched scene of slaughter : at length 
the Saxons remain masters of the field. For this the king 
aforesaid honours them with a triumph ; and they privately 
send home messengers, to tell their countrymen of the fer- 
tility of the country and the indolence of its cowardly people. 
Their countrymen, without delay, listen to their representa- 
tions, and send to them a large fleet and army. Forthwith 
they were magnificently received by the king of the Britons, 
and contracted a league of hospitality with the natives. The 
Britons promise peace, worthy gifts of alliance and honours, 
provided that they might remain in ease under their protec- 
tion from the attacks of their enemies, and pay them im- 
mense stipends. 

Thus much of the alliance and promises of the Britons: 
now let us speak of their discord and ill fortune. For seeing 
the cunningness of the new people, they partly feared and 
partly despised them. They break their compact, and no 
longer render them the honours of alliance, but instead 
thereof, they try to drive them from their snores. These 
Deing their designs, the thing is made public, the treaty is 
openly set a*ide, all parties fly to arms: the Britons give 
* Otherwise called VDrtigern. 


way, and tl e Saxons keep possession of the country. Again 
they send t) Germany, not secretly as before, but by a public 
embassy, as victors are wont to do, and demand reinforce- 
ments. A large multitude joined them from every province 
of Germany ; and they carried on war against the Britons, 
driving them from their territories with great slaughter, and 
ever remaining masters of the field. At last the Britons 
bend their necks to the yoke, and pay tribute. This migra- 
tion is said to have been made from the three provinces of 
Germany, which are said to have been the most distin- 
guished, namely, from Saxony, Anglia, and Giota. The 
Cantuarians derived their origin from the Giotae [Jutes], 
and also the Uuhtii, who took their name from the island 
Wihta [Isle of Wight], which lies on the coast of Britain. 

For out of Saxony, which is now called Ald-Sexe, or Old 
Saxony, came the tribes which are still called so among the 
English, the East Saxons, South Saxons, and West Saxons ; 
that is, those who are called in Latin, the Oriental, Austral, 
and Occidental Saxons. 

Out of the province of Anglia came the East Anglians, 
Middle Anglians, Mercians, and all the race of the Nor- 
thumbrians. Moreover Old Anglia is situated between the 
Saxons and Jutes, having a capital town, which in Saxon is 
called Sleswig, but in Danish Haithaby. Britain, therefore, 
is now called Anglia [England], because it took the name of 
its conquerors : for their leaders aforesaid were the first who 
came thence to Britain ; namely, Hengist and Horsa, sons of 
Wyhrtels :* their grandfather was Wecta, and their great- 
grandfather Withar, whose father was Woden, who also 
was king of a multitude of barbarians. For the unbelievers 
of the North are oppressed by such delusion that they wor- 
ship him as a god even to this day, namely the Danes, the 
Northmen, and the Suevi ; of whom Lucan says, 

" Pours forth the yellow Suevi from the North." 

So greatly did the invasion of those nations spread and 
increase, that they by degrees obliterated all memory of the 
inhabitants who had formerly invited them with gifts. They 
demand their stipends: the Britons refuse: they take up 
arms, discord arises, and as we have before said, they drive 
* More commonly called Wihtgila. 


the Britons into certain narrow isthmuses of the island, and 
themselves hold possession of the island from sea to sea even 
into the present time. 

A. 418. In the ninth year also after the sacking of Rome 
by the Goths, those of Roman race who were left in Britain, 
not bearing the manifold insults of the people, bury their 
treasures in pits thinking that hereafter they might have 
better fortune, which never was the case ; and taking a por- 
tion, assemble on the coast, spread their canvas to the winds, 
and seek an exile on the snores of Gaul. 

A 430. Twelve years after, bishop Palladius is sent by 
the *ioly pope Celestinus to preach the gospel of Christ to 
tie Scots. 


A. 449. When, therefore, nineteen years had elapsed, 
Maurice and Valentine f became emperors of Rome; in 
whose reign Hengist and Horsa at the invitation of Vorti- 
gern king of the Britons arrive at the place called Wip- 
pid's-fleet, at first on the plea of assisting the Britons: 
but afterwards they rebelled and became their enemies, as 
we have already said. Now the number of years, completed 
since the marvellous incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
was four hundred and forty-nine. 

A. 455. In the sixth year after, Hengist and Horsa 
fought a battle against Vortigern in the plain of JEgels- 
threp. There Horsa was killed, and Hengist obtained the 

A. 457. But after two years, Hengist and JEso his son 
renewed the war against the Britons ; and there fell in that 
day on the side of the Britons four thousand men. Then 
the Britons, leaving Cantia, which is commonly called Kent, 
fled to the city of London. 

A. 465. About eight years after, the same men took up 
arms against the Britons, and there was a great slaughter 
made on that day : twelve chiefs of the Britons fell near a 
place called Wipped's-fleet ; there fell a soldier of the Saxons 
called Wipped, from which circumstance that place took its 
name; in the same way as the Thesean sea was so called 

* Capitulum in the original : but no number is annexed* 
t This should be Marcian and Valentinian. 


from Theseus, and the JSgsean sea from ^Igeus who was 
drowned in it. 

A. 473. After eight years were completed, Hengist with 
his son ^Esc, a second time make war against the Britons, 
and having slaughtered their army, remain victors on the 
field of battle, and carry off immense spoils. 

A. 477. In the fourth year JEYLa. landed in Britain from 
Germany with his three sons, at a place called Cymenes- 
Ora, and defeated the Britons at Aldredes-leage.* 

A. 485. After eight years, the same people fight against 
the Britons, near a place called Mearcraedsburn. 

A. 488. After this, at an interval of three years, ^3Esc, 
son of Hengist, began to reign in Kent. 

A. 492. After three years, JElla and Assa besieged a 
town called Andreds-cester, arid slew all its inhabitants, 
both small and great, leaving not a single soul alive. 

A. 495. After the lapse of three more years, Cerdic and 
his son Cynric sailed to Britain with five ships, to a port 
called Cerdic's-ore, and on the same day fought a battle 
against the Britons, in which they were finally victorious 

A. 500. Six years after their arrival, they sailed round 
the western part of Britain, which is now called Wessex. 

A. 501. Also after a year Port landed in Britain with his 
son Bieda. 

A. 508. Seven years after his arrival, Cerdic with his son 
Cynric slay Natan-Leod, king of the Britons, and five thou- 
sand men with him. 

A. 5.14. Six years after, Stuf and Whitgar landed in 
Britain at Cerdic's-ore, and suddenly make war on the Bri- 
tons, whom they put to flight, and themselves remain masters 
of the field. Thus was completed the fifty-sixth f year since 
Hengist and Horsa first landed in Britain. 

A. .519. Five years after, Cerdic and Cynric fought a 
battle against the Britons at Cerdic's-ford, $ on the river 
Avene, and that same year nominally began to reign. 

A. 527. Eight years after, they renew the war against the 

A. 530. After three years, they took the Isle of Wight, 

• Perhaps an error for Andredes-Ieage, formerly An&vida, in Santa* 

t This number should be sixty-six. 

t Charford, near Fordingbridge, Hants. 

g ETHEL WERD'S CHRONICLE. [a.d. 534— 377. 

the situation of which we have mentioned above : but they 
did not kill many of the Britons. 

A. 534. Four years after, Cerdic with his son Cenric gives 
up the Isle of Wight into the hands of their two cousin3 
Stuf and Wihtgar. In the course of the same year Cerdic 
died, and Cenric his son began to reign after him, and he 
reigned twenty-seven years. 

A. 538. When he had reigned four years, the sun waa 
eclipsed from the first hour of the day to the third.* 

A. 540. Again, two years after, the sun was eclipsed for 
half-an-hour after the third hour, so that the stars were 
everywhere visible in the sky. 

A. 547. In the seventh year after this, Ida began to 
reign over the province of Northumberland, whose family 
derive their kingly title and nobility from Woden. 

A. 552. Five years after, Cenric fought against the Britons 
near the town of Scarburh [Old Sarum], and, having routed 
them, slew a large number. 

A. 556. The same, four years afterwards, fought with 
Ceawlin against the Britons, near a place called Berin-byrig 
[Banbury ?] 

A. 560. At the end of about four year?, Ceawlin began 
to reign over the western part of Britain, which is now com- 
monly called Wessex. Moreover, Ella the Iffing is sent to 
the race of Northumbria, whose ancestry extends up to the 
highest, namely to Woden. 

A. 565. Five years afterwards, Christ's servant Columba 
came from Scotia [Ireland] to Britain, to preach the word of 
God to the Picts. 

A. 568. Three years after his coming, Ceawlin and Cutha 
stirred up a, civil war against Ethelbert, and having defeated 
him, pursued him into Kent, and slew his two chiefs, Oslaf 
and Cnebba, in Wubbandune.f 

A. 571. After three years, Cuthulf fought against the 
Britons at Bedanford [Bedford], and took four royal cities, 
namely Liganburh [Lenbury], Eglesburh [Aylesbury], Ben- 
singtun [Benson], and Ignesham [Eynsham]. 

A. 577. After the lapse of six years, Cuthwin and Ceaw- 
lin fight against the Britons, and slay three of their kings, 

* That is, from seven till nine o'clock in the morning, 
f Wimbledon, or WorplesdoD. Surrey. 

a.©. 584-596.] ARRIVAL OF AUGUSTINE. 9 

Comail, Condidan, and Farinmeail, at a place called Deor- 
hamme [Derham ?] ; and they took three of their most 
distinguished cities, Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath. 

A. 584. After seven years, Ceawlin and Cutha fought 
against the Britons, at a place called Fethanleage [Frethern?].: 
there Cutha fell ; but Ceawlin reduced a multitude of cities, 
and took immense spoils. 

A. 592. In the eighth year there was a great slaughter on 
both sides, at a place called Wodnesbyrg [Wemborow?], so 
that Ceawlin was put to flight, and died at the end of one 
more year. 

A. 593. After him, Cwichelm, Crida, and Ethelfrid, suc- 
ceeded to the kingdom. 



In the beginning of this book it will not be necessary to 
make a long preface, my dearest sister ; for I have guided 
my pen down through many perplexed subjects from the 
highest point, and, omitting those things extracted from sa- 
cred and profane history, on which most persons have fixed 
their attention, have left higher matters to the skilful reader. 
And now I must turn my pen to the description of those 
things which properly concern our ancestors ; and though a 
pupil is not properly called a member, yet it yields no little 
service to the other members. 

We therefore entreat in God's name that our words may 
not be despised by the malevolent, but rather that they may 
give abundant thanks to the King of heaven, if they seem to 
speak things of high import. 




Chap. I. — Of the coming of Augustine, who was sent by the blessed Pop* 
Gregory, [a.d. 596.J 

As Divine Providence, mercifully looking down upon all 
things from all eternity, is accustomed to rule them, not by 
necessity, but by its powerful superintendence, and remain* 


ing always immoveable in itself, and disposing the different 
elements by its word, and the human race to come to the 
knowledge of the truth by the death of his only begotten 
Son, by whose blood the four quarters of the world are re- 
deemed, so now by his servant doth it dispel the darkness in 
ihe regions of the west. 

Whilst therefore the blessed pope Gregory sat on the 
episcopal seat, and sowed the seeds of the gospel of Christ, 
there stood by him some men of unknown tongue and very 
comely to look on. The holy man admiring the beauty of 
their countenances, asked of them with earnestness from what 
country .they came. The young men with downcast looks 
replied, that they were Angles. " Are you Christians," said 
the holy man, "or heathens ?" "Certainly not Christians," 
said they, " for no one has yet opened our ears." Then the 
holy man, lifting up his eyes, replied, " What man, when 
there are stones at hand, lays a foundation with reeds ?" 
They answer, "No man of prudence." "You have well 
said," answered he ; and he straightway took them into a 
room, where he instructed them in the divine oracles, and 
afterwards washed them with the baptism of Christ : and 
further he arranged with them, that he would go with them 
into their country. When the Romans heard of this they 
opposed his words, and were unwilling to allow their pastor 
to go so far from home. The blessed pope Gregory, there- 
fore, seeing that the people were opposed to him, sent with 
the men aforesaid one of his disciples, who was well instructed 
in the divine oracles, by name Augustine, and with him a 
multitude of brethren. When these men arrived, the En- 
glish received the faith and erected temples, and our Saviour 
Jesus Christ exhibited innumerable miracles to his faithful 
followers through the prayers of the bishop, St. Augustine ; 
at whose tomb, even to the present day, no small number of 
miracles are wrought, with the assistance of our Lord. 

Chap. II.— Of king Elhelbert, and of his baptism. [a.d. 597.] 

When the man aforesaid arrived, Ethelbert bore rule over 
Kent, and receiving the faith, submitted to be baptized with 
all his house. He was the first king among the English who 
received the word of Christ, Lastly Ethelbert was the son 

*». m-floe.] msutTfi of pope Gregory. 11 

of Ermenric, whose grandfather was Ochta, who bore the 
praenomen of Eisc,* from which the kings of Kent were 
afterwards named Esings, as the Romans from Romulus, the 
Cecropidffi from Cecrops, and the Tuscans from Tuscus. 
For Eisc was the father of Hengist, who was the first 
consul and leader of the Angles out of Germany ; whose 
father was Wihtgils, his grandfather Witta, his great-grand- 
father Wecta, his great-grandfather's father Woden, who 
also was king of many nations, whom some of the pagans 
now still worship as a god. And the number of years that 
was completed from the incarnation of our Lord was four 
years less, than six hundred.! 

Chap. III.— Of Ceolwulf king of the West-Saxons, and of his con- 
tinued wars. 

A. 597. At the end of one year, Ceolwulf began to reign 
over the Western English.}: His family was derived fron: 
Woden ; and so great was his ferocity that he is said to have 
been always at war, either with his own nation or with the 
Britons, or the Picts or Scots. 

Chap. IV. — Concerning Augustine's pall of apostle ship sent him by pope 


A. 601. When he had reigned four years, pope Gregory 
sent to Augustine the pall of apostleship. 

Chap. V. — Of the faith of the East-Saxons, and of the decease of the 
blessed pope Gregory, 

A. 604. After three years, the eastern English § also re- 
ceived baptism in the reign of Sigebert [Sabert] their king. 

A. 606. Two years afterwards, the blessed pope Gregory 
departed this world, in the eleventh year after he had 
bestowed baptism on the English by sending among them 
Christ's servant Augustine. And the number of years that 

* See William of Malmsbury, b. i. c. 1, p. 12, note. t a.d. 596. 

$ West-Saxons is the more correct term ; but Ethelwerd often uses the 
more general name Angles or English, for all the tribes settled in England* 

§ Orientates Angli is the expression of Ethelwerd. but it should be 
Orientates Saxones, whose king's name ie generally written Sabert. Se» 
preceding note. 


was completed from the beginning of the world was more 
than five thousand and eight hundred. * 

Chap. VI. — Of the reign of king Cynegils, his wars; and of the coming of 
bishop Birinus, of the baptism of the king, and the faith of the East* 
Saxons, f and of the baptism of Cuthrid. [ a.d. 6 1 5—639.] 

Afterwards Cynegils received the kingdom of the West- 
Angles, and, in conjunction with Cuichelm, he fought 
against the Britons at a place called Beandune, $ and having 
defeated their army, slew more than two thousand and forty 
of them. 

A. 629. ^Fourteen years after, Cynegils and Cuichelm 
fought against Penda at Cirencester. 

A. 635. After six years bishop Birinus came among the 
Western Angles, preaching to them the gospel of Christ. 
And the number of years that elapsed since their arrival in 
Britain out of Germany, was about one hundred and twenty. 
At that time Cynegils received baptism from the holy bishop 
Birinus, in a town called Dorchester. 

A. 639. He baptized Cuthred also four years after in the 
same city, and adopted him as his son in baptism. 

Chap. VII. — Of the reign of Kenwalk, and of his actions. 

A. 648. When nine years were fulfilled, Kenwalk gave 
to his relation, Cuthred, out of his farms, three thousand 
measures, adjacent to a hill named Esc's dune, [Aston ?] 

A. 652. Four years after, he fought a battle against his 
own people, at a place called Bradford, oh the river Afene. § 

A. 655. Three years afterwards king Penda died, and the 
Mercians were baptized. 

A. 658. After three years more, the kings Kenwalk and 
Pionna|| renewed the war against the Britons, and pursued 
them to a place called Pederydan. If 

* Ethelwerd adopts that system of chronology which makes 5300 to hare 
elapsed before Christ. 

»f Should be West-Saxons. 

t Most probably Bampton in Oxfordshire. This battle took place in 
614. See the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for that year. 

§ Avon. 

|| This should be " at Pionna," [Pen]. See Saxon Chronicle. 

% Pethertnti. 

a.d. «]-«82 1 WULPHERE— KENTW1K. 13 

A. 661. After three years, Kenwalk again fought a battle 
near the town of Pontesbury, and took prisoner Wulf here, son 
of Penda, at Esc'sdune [Ashdown], when he had defeated 
his army. 

A. 664. Three years afterwards there was an eclipse of 
the sun. 

A. 670. When six years were fulfilled, Oswy, king of 
Northumberland, died, and Egfrid succeeded him. 

A. 671. After one year more, there was a great pestilence 
among the birds, so that there was an intolerable stench by 
sea and land, arising from the carcases of birds, both small 
and great. 

A. 672. Twelve months after Kenwalk, king of the West- 
Angles, died ; and his wife, Sexburga, succeeded him in the 
kingdom, and reigned twelve months. 

A. 673. After her Escwin succeeded to the throne, and 
two years were fulfilled. His family traces to Cerdic. 

Chap. VIII.— Of Wulfhere and Cenwulf* and of the council held by the 
holy father Theodore, 

A. 674. After one year, Wulfhere son of Penda, and 
Cenwalh* fought a battle among themselves in a place called 
Beadanhead [Bedwin]. 

A. 677. After three years a comet was seen. 

A. 680. At the end of two years a council was held at 
Hethlege,'f by the holy archbishop Theodore, to instruct the 
people in the true faith. In the course of the same year 
died Christ's servant, Hilda, abbess of the monastery called 
Streaneshalch [Whitby]. 

Chap. IX. — Of king Kentwin and his wars 

A. 682. After two years king Kentwin drove the Britons 
out of their country to the sea. 

A. 684. After he had reigned two years % Ina became king 
of the western English. A hundred and eighty-eight years 
were then fulfilled from the time that Cerdic, his sixth 

* These names are both wrong ; we must read Escwin. 
t Heathfield or Hatfield. 

X There is an error here : Caedwalla is omitted, and three ; cars are losl 
a the chronology. 


ancestor, received the western part of the island from the 

Chap. X. — Of Cadwalla % s conversion to the faith of Christ, 

A. 684. In the course of the same year Caedwalla went to 
Rome, and received baptism and the the faith of Christ; 
after his baptism the pope of that year gave him the surname 
of Peter. 

A. 694. About six years afterwards, the Kentish men re- 
membered the cause which they had against king Ina when 
they burnt his relation* with fire ; and they gave him thirty 
thousand shillings at a fixed rate of sixteen pence each. 

Chap. — XI. Of the acts of Ethelred king of the Mercians, 

A. 704. After ten years, Ethelred son of Penda and king of 
the Mercians assumed the monastic habit, when he had com- 
pleted twenty-nine years of his reign. 

A. 705. After twelve months died Alfrid king of North- 
umberland. And the number of years that was then ful- 
filled from the beginning of the world was five thousand 
nine hundred. 

A. 709. Four years afterwards died the holy bishop Aid- 
helm, by whose wonderful art were composed the words which 
are now read, and his bishopric was the province which is 
now called Selwoodshire [Sherborne]. 

Chap. XII. — Of the reign of Ina, and of his acts, 

A. 710. After a year, the kings and Ina made war against 
king Wuthgirete ;f also duke Bertfrid against the Picts. 

A. 714. After four years died Christ's servant Guthlac. 

A. 715. After a year Ina and Ceolred fought against 
those who opposed them in arms at Wothnesbeorghge [Wan- 

A. 721. After seven years Ina slew Cynewulf, and after 
six months made war against the Southern English. 

* His name was Mull : the passage is obscure. See the Anglo-Saxon 

\ Called Gerent in the Saxon Chronicle, and Gerentius in A'dhelm'* 


Chap. XIII.— Of king Ethelard. 

A. 728. When six years were fulfilled he went to Rome, 
and Ethelard received the kingdom of the West Saxons. 
In the first year of his reign he made war against Oswy.* 

A. 729. At the end of one year a comet appeared, and 
the holy bishop Egbert died. 

A. 731. After two years, Osric king of Northumberland 
died and Ceolwulf succeeded to the kingdom. 

Chap. XIV Of the acts of king Ethelbuid. 

A. 733. Two years after these things, king Ethelbald re- 
ceived under his dominion the royal vill which is called 
Somerton. The same year the sun was eclipsed. 

A. 734. After the lapse of one year, the moon appeared 
as if stained with spots of blood, and by the same omen Tat- 
wine and Bedef departed this life. 

Chap. XV. — Of the reign ofEadbert and oj his deeds. 

A. 738. After four years, Eadbert succeeded to the kingdom 
of the Northumbrians, and his brother Egbert discharged 
the archiepiscopal office ; and now they both lie buried in 
the city of York, under the shade of the same porch. 

Chap. XVI.— Of the rule of king Outhred. 

A. 750. After twelve years king Cuthred began to make 
war against duke Ethelhun, for some state-jealousy. 

A. 752. Again after two years he drew his sword against 
king Ethelbald at a place called Beorgforda.J 

A. 753. After another year he gratified the fierce propen- 
sities of his nature by making war against the Britons : and 
after another year he died, a.d. 754. 

Chap. XVII. — Of the acts of king Sigebert and of his reign. 

Furthermore Sigebert received the kingdom of the western 

A. 756. At the end of one year after Sigebert began to 

* Should be Oswald king of Northumberland, 
t It is doubtful whether Bode died in 734 or 735. 
X Without doubt this is Bi rford in Oxfczusnire. 


reign, Cynewulf, invading Ids kingdom, took it from him, and 
drew away all the wise men of the west country, in conse- 
quence of the perverse deeds of the aforesaid king ; nor was 
any part of his kingdom left to him except one province only, 
named Hamptonshire [Hampshire]. And he remained there no 
long time ; for, instigated by an old affront, he slew a certain 
duke, and Cynewulf drove him into the wilds of Andred: 
and so he fled from thicket to thicket, until he was at last 
slain by a herdsman at a place named PryfFetesflodan,* and 
so the blood of duke Cumbra was avenged. 

Chap. XVIII. — Of the reign of Cynewulf, his war and deeds. 

A. 755. These things having been premised, Cynewulf fre- 
quently fought no slight battles against the Britons. For 
when thirty-one years had passed, he tried to expel from his 
territories a certain chief named Cyneard, brother to Sige- 
bert, whose deeds have been related above. He was after- 
wards besieged by this prince, for it was told him that he was 
in company of a certain courtezan at a place calico: Meranton 
[Merton], and though he had with him only a few men, who 
knew nothing of the matter, he surrounded the house with 
arms. The king, seeing how he was situated, leaped to the 
door, and bravely repelled their weapons ; but making up his 
mind he rushed upon the prince, and inflicted no slight wounds 
upon him ; his companions, not forgetting his threats, raisecl 
their weapons and slew the king. The report being spread, 
the king's soldiers, who had been in his company, each for 
himself, as was their custom, made an attack, uttering shouts. 
But the prince, soothing them, promised them gifts and ample 
honours. They desire death, now that their lord is dead ; 
nor do they attend to his promises, but rush with one accord 
upon death. None of them escaped with life except one 
British hostage, and he had received severe wounds. When, 
therefore, the day dawned, it became known to the soldiers, 
who had remained behind the king's back, they assembled 
together and set forth, and with them Osric the duke and 
Wigferth the knight. They found the prince in the house, 
where their master was lying dead. The doors are belea- 
guered on both sides. Within are the one party, and the 

* Privett, Hampshire. 

A.D. 75ff-756.J OFFA AN.*> HIS DEEDS. 17 

other party are without. The prince asks a truce, and mates 
ample promises; his object is future sovereignty. The 
king's friends spurn these offers, and rather seek to separate 
from the prince their relations who were in his company. 
These reject their proposals ; on the contrary they answer 
their friends thus :* " No tie is so powerful as that which 
binds us to our lord ; and whereas you ask us to depart, we 
tell you that we made the same proposal to those who were slain 
with your king, and they would not accede to it." To this 
the other party rejoined, " But you will remain unhurt, if 
you only depart, nor share in the vengeance which we shall 
inflict for those who were slain with the king." They re- 
turned no answer to this, but silently begin the battle ; shield 
punishes shield, and arms are laced in bucklers, relation falls 
by his kinsman ; they smash the doors, one pursues after an- 
other, and a lamentable fight ensues. Alas ! they slay the 
prince ; all his companions are laid low before his face, except 
one, and he was the baptismal son of duke Osric, but half 
alive, and covered with wounds. 

Now Cynewulf reigned thirty-one years, and his body lies 
entombed in the city of Winchester. The above-named prince 
also reposes in the church commonly called Axanminster.f 
Both their families trace to Cerdic. 

A. 755. In the same year Ethelbald, king of Mercia, was 
slain at a place called Seccandune,$ and his body rests in a 
monastery called Reopandune.§ Bernred succeeded to the 
kingdom, and not long after he also died* 

Chap. XIX.— Of the reign of king Offa and of his deeds. 

A. 756. In the revolution of the same year, Offa suc- 
ceeded to the kingdom, a remarkable man, son of Thing- 
ferth; his grandfather was Enwulf, his great-grandfather 
Osmod, his great-grandfather's father Pybba, his great-grand- 
father's grandfather was Icel, his sixth ancestor Eomaer, the 

• This is a sort of paraphrase rather than a translation : the original is 
not only bad in style and ungrammatical, but exceedingly corrupt and 
very obscure. 

t Now Axminster. The syllable an oi en occurs similarly in many an- 
cient Saxon towns ; thus Bedanford, Oxenford, &c, and Seccandune, Beop- 
andune below. $ Now Seckington. $ Now Repton. 

18 ETUELWERD'S CHBOSffCLB. j.**. 77t-7*V. 

seventh Angeltheow, the eighth Offa, the ninth Waermund, 
the tenth Wihtlaeg, the eleventh Woden. 

A. 773. Also after seventeen years, from the time that 
Cynewulf took the kingdom from Sigebert, the sign of our 
Lord's cross appeared in the heavens after sun-set, and in the 
same year a civil contest* took place between the people of 
Kent and Mercia, at a place called Cittanford :f and in those 
days some monstrous serpents were seen in the country of the 
Southern Angles, which is called Sussex. 

A. 777. About four years after, Cynewulf and Offa fought 
a battle near the town of Bensington, which was gained by 

A. 779. Two years afterwards, the Gauls and Saxons 
stirred up tfo slight contests with one another. 

A. 783. In short, after four years, Cyneard slays king 
Cynewulf, and is himself also slain there. 

Chap. XX.— Of the acts o/Bertric, king of the West-Saxons. 

A. 783. In the same year Bertric received the kingdom 
of the West- Angles, whose lineage traces up to Cerdic. 

A. 786. After three years, he took in marriage Offa's 
daughter Eadburga. 




After what has been written in the foregoing pages, it re- 
mains that we declare the contents of our third book. We 
exhort you, therefore, most beloved object of my desire, that 
the present work may not be thought tedious by you for its 
length of reading, since to thee especially I dedicate this. 
Wherefore, the farther my mind digresses, the more does my 
affectionate love generate and expand itself. 


* The term * civile bellum ' — civil war is used by Ethelwerd, to denote 
a battle between the kindred Anglo-Saxon kingdoms ; the classical reader 
will also note the use of the word 'bellum ' for ' prcelium.' 

t This should be Ottanford, or Otford, in Kent, a place of great 

«.n. 787-*0O.] KltXULF — JUS WAttS. 19 


Whilst the pious king Bertric was reigning over the west- 
ern parts of the English, and the innocent people spread 
through their plains were enjoying themselves in tranquillity 
and yoking their oxen to the plough, suddenly there arrived 
on the coast a fleet of Danes, not large, but of three ships 
only : this was their first arrival. When this became known, 
the king's officer, who was already stopping in the town of 
Dorchester, leaped on his horse and gallopped forwards with 
a few men to the port, thinking that they were merchants* 
rather than enemies, and, commanding them in an authorita- 
tive tone, ordered them to be made to go to the royal city ; 
but he was slain on the spot by them, and all who were with 
him. The name of the officer was Beaduherd. 

A. 787. And the number of years that was fulfilled was 
above three hundred and thirty-four, from the time that Hen- 
gist and Horsa arrived in Britain, in which also Bertric 
married the daughter of king Offa. 

A. 792. Moreover, it was after five years that Offa king 
of the Mercians commanded the head of king Ethelbert to be 
struck off. 

A. 794. After two years Offa also died, and Egfert his 
son succeeded to the kingdom, and died in the same year. 
Pope Adrian also departed this life. Ethelred, king of the 
Northumbrians, was slain by his own people. 

Chap. I. — OfKenulf king of the Mercians, and of his wars. 

A. 796. After two years, Kenulf, king of the Mercians, 
ravaged IJent and the province which is called Merscwari,* 
and their king Pren was taken, whom they loaded with 
chains, and led as far as Mercia. 

A. 797. Then after a year, the enraged populace of Rome 
cut out the tongue of the blessed pope Leo, and tore out his 
eyes, and drove him from his apostolical seat. But suddenly, 
by the aid of Christ, who is always wonderful in his works, 
his sight was restored, and his tongue regifted with speech, 
and he resumed his seat of apostleship as before. 

A. 800. After three years, king Bertric died. 

* The Merscwari are thought to have been the inhabitants of Rtranay, 
Id Kent, and its vicinitr. 


20 ethelwerd's chronicle. u.*m 

Chap. II. — Of the reign of Egbert, and hit deeds. 

Therefore Egbert is raised to the kingdom of the West 
Saxons. On the very same day, as king Ethelmund was 
passing through a farm, Wiccum, intending to go to a ford 
called Cynemaeresford [Kempsford] , duke Woxstan met him 
there with the centuries of the inhabitants of the province 
of Wilssetum [Wiltshire]. Both of them fell in the battle, 
but the Wilsaetae remained the victors. 

Also, down to the time that Egbert received the kingdom, 
there were completed from the beginning of the world 5995 
years, from the incarnation of our Lord 800 years, from the 
coming of Hengist and Horsa into Britain 350 years, from 
the reign of Cerdic, the tenth ancestor of king Egbert, when 
he subdued the western part of Britain, 300 years, and from 
the coming of Augustine, who was sent by the blessed pope 
Gregory to baptize the English nation, 204 years : and in 
the tenth year afterwards the holy father Gregory died. 

A. 805. After king Egbert had reigned five years, was the 
death of Cuthred king of Kent 

A. 812. In the seventh year Charles, king of the Franks, 
departed this life. 

A. 814. After two years, the blessed pope Leo passed 
from one virtue to another. 

A. 819. After five years, Kenulf king of the Mercians 

A. 821. His successor was Ceolwulf, who was deprived 
of the kingdom two years afterwards. 

A. 822. A year afterwards a great synod was held at a 
place called Cloveshoo,* and two dukes were there slain 
Burhelm and Mucca. 

A. 823. After one year a battle was fought against the 
Britons in the province of Defna [Devonshire], at a place 
called Camelford. In the same year king Egbert fought a 
battle against Bernulf king of the Mercians at Ellendune,*f 
and Egbert gained the victory : but there was a great loss 
on both sides ; and Hun duke of the province of Somerset 
was there slain : he lies buried in the city of Winchester. 
Lastly, king Egbert sent his son Ethelwulf with an army 

* Near Rochester, Kent. f Wilton. 

a.».«24-83«.1 KING EGBERT'S CONQUESTS. 21 

into Kent, and with him bishop Ealstan and duke WulfhercL 
They defeated the Kentish army, and pursued their king 
Baldred into the northern * parts beyond the Thames. To 
whom the men of Kent are afterwards subjected, and also 
the provinces of Surrey and Sussex, that is, the midland 
and southern Angles. 

A. 824. For in the course of the same year the king of 
the East- Angles with the wise men of his realm, visits king 
Egbert, for the sake of peace and protection, on account of 
his fear of the Mercians. 

A. 825. In the course of that year the aforesaid East- 
Angles made war against Bernulf king of the Mercians, and 
having defeated his army they slew him and five dukes with 
him. His successor was Withlaf. 

A. 827. Two years afterwards, the moon was eclipsed en 
the very night of Christ's nativity. Ajid in the same year 
king Egbert reduced under his power all that part of the 
kingdom which lies to the south of the river Humber : he 
was the eighth king in Britain who was famous for his great 
power. For the first was JElla king of the South- Angles, 
who possessed the same dominions as Egbert ; the second 
was Ceawlin king of the West- Angles ; the third Ethelbert 
king of Kent ; the fourth Redwald king of the East- Angles ; 
the fifth Edwin king of Northumbria ; the sixth Oswald ; 
the seventh Oswy brother of Oswald ; after whom the eighth 
Egbert, of whom we have made mention above. He led his 
army against the Northumbrians, who also bent their necks 
and submitted to him. 

A. 828. At the end of a year therefore, Withlaf again 
received the kingdom. At that time also, king Egbert led 
his army against the northern Britons, and when he had sub- 
dued all of them, he returned in peace. 

A. 832. After four years therefore the pagans devastated 
the territories of a place called Sceapige.* 

A. 833. After one year Egbert fought against the pagan 
fleet, in number thirty-five vessels, at a place called Carrum 
"Charmouth] : and the Danes obtained the victory. 

A. 836. Lastly after three years, a large army of Britonf 
mpproached the frontiers of the West- Saxons : without do 

* The Isle of Sheppey. 


lay they form themselves into a compact body, and carry 
their arms against Egbert king of the Angles. Egbert 
therefore having ascertained the state of things beforehand, 
assembled his army and twice imbued their weapons in the 
blood of the Britons at Hengeston,* and put them to flight. 

A. 837. At the end of a year the powerful king Egbert 

Chap. III.— Of the reign of Ethelwulf and of hit deeds. 

After his death, Athulf f succeeded to the throne of his 
father Egbert, and he delivered up the kingdom of Kent to 
his son Athelstan, together with East- Saxony, South- Saxony, 
and Surrey, i. e. the eastern, southern and midland parts. 

A. 838. After one year, duke Wulfherd fought with the 
pagan fleet near the town of Hamptun [Southampton], 
and having slain many of them gained the victory : the 
number of ships in the fleet was thirty-three. After this 
exploit the duke himself died in peace. The same year 
duke Ethelhelm, with the people of the province of Dorset, 
fought another battle against the pagan army at Port, and 
pursued them some distance : but afterwards the Danes 
were victorious, and slew the duke and his companions with 

A. 839. After one year duke Herebert was slain by the 
Danes at Merswarum ;J and the same year a great slaughter 
was made by that army in the city of Lindsey, and in the 
province of Kent, and in East Anglia. 

A. 840. Also after one year, the same thing took place in 
the city of London, in Quintanwic [Canterbury], and in the 
town of Rochester. 

A. 841. Meanwhile, after one year king Ethelwulf fought 
against the Danes at a place called Charmouth, by whom also 
he was vanquished, and the victors kept possession of the 

A. 844. Three years afterwards duke Eanwulf, who 
governed the province of Somerset, and bishop Ealstan 
also, and Osric duke of Dorset, fought a battle against the 
pagans at the mouth of the Parret before-mentioned ; where 
* Hengston-hill, Cornwall. 
+ Generally called Ethel irulf by modern writers. 
% Romney Marsh. 


they gained the victory, having defeated the Danish army. 
Also in the same year king Athelstan and duke Elchere 
fought against the army of the above-mentioned nation in 
the province of Kent, near the town of Sandwich, where 
they slew many of them, put their troops to flight, and took 
nine ships. 

A. 851. After seven years Ceorl duke of Devon fought a 
battle against the pagans at Wembury,* where they slew many 
of the Danes and gained the victory. In the course of the 
same year, the barbarians wintered first in the isle of Thanet, 
which lies not far from Britain, and has fruitful but not large 
corn fields. That year was not yet finished, when a large fleet 
of pagans arrived, 350 ships, at the mouth of the river 
Thames, commonly called Thames-mouth, and destroyed the 
city of Canterbury and the city of London, and put to flight 
Berthwulf king of Mercia, having defeated his army. After 
the battle they returned beyond the river Thames towards 
the south through the province of Surrey, and there king 
Ethelwulf with the Western Angles met them : an immense 
number was slain on both sides, nor have we ever heard of a 
more severe battle before that day : these things happened 
near Ockley Wood. 

A. 854. After three years king Burhred asked assistance 
from king Ethelwulf to subdue the Northern Britons : he 
granted it, and having collected his army, passed through 
the Mercian kingdom to go against the Britons : whom he 
subdued and made tributary. In the same year king 
Ethelwulf sent his son Alfred to Rome, in the days of our 
lord pope Leo,f who consecrated him king and named him 
his son in baptism, when we are accustomed to name little 
children, when we receive them from the bishop's hand. In 
the same year where fought battles in the isle of Thanet 
against the pagans ; and there was a great slaughter made 
on both sides, and many were drowned in the sea. The 
same year also after Easter king Ethelwulf gave his daughter 
in marriage to king Eurhred. 

A. 855. After a year the pagans wintered in Sheppey. In 
the same year king Ethelwulf gave the tenth of all his 
possessiosn to be the Lord's portion, and so appointed it to 

• Near Plymouth. t Lw> the Fourth. 


be in all the government of bis kingdom. In the same year 
he set out to Rome with great dignity, and stayed there 
twelve months. As be returned home, therefore, to his 
country, Charles, king of the Franks, gave him his daughter 
in marriage, and he took her home with him to his own 

A. 857. Lastly, after a year king Ethelwulf died, and his 
body reposes in the city of Winchester. Now the aforesaid 
king was son of king Egbert, and his grandfather was 
Elmund, his great-grandfather Eafa, his great-grandfather's 
father was Eoppa, and his great-grandfather's grandfather 
was Ingild, brother of Ina, king of the Western- Angles, who 
ended his life at Rome ; and the above-named kings derived 
their origin from king Kenred. Kenred was the son of 
Ceolwald, son of Cuthwin, son of Ceawlin, son of Cynric, 
son of Cerdic, who also was the first possessor of the 
western parts of Britain, after he had defeated the armies of 
the Britons : his father was Elesa, son of Esla, son of Gewis, 
son of Wig, son of Freawin, son of Frithogar, son of Brond, 
son of Beldeg, son of Woden, son of Frithowald, son of 
Frealaf, son of Frithuwulf, son of Finn, son of Godwulf, son 
of Great, son of Taetwa, son of Beaw, son of Sceldi, son of 
Sceaf. This Sceaf came with one ship to an island of the 
ocean named Scani, sheathed in arms, and he was a young 
boy, and unknown to the people of that land ; but he was 
received by them, and they guarded him as their own with 
much care, and afterwards chose him for their king. It is 
from him that king Ethelwulf derives his descent. And 
then was completed the fiftieth year from the beginning of 
king Egbert's reign. 


Three books are now finished, and it remains to guide my 
pen to the fourth, in which also will be found greater gain, 
and the origin of our race is more clearly intimated. And, 
although I may seem to send you a load of reading, dearest 
sister of my desire, do not judge me harshly, but as my 
writings were in love to you, so may you read them. 

And may God Almighty, who is praised both in Trinity 


and in Unipotencr ever preserve you under the shadow of 
his wings, and your companions with you. Amen ! 


Chap. I. — Of the reign of the sons of king Ethelwulf, namely Ethelbeid 

and Ethelbert. 

Meanwhile, after the death of king Ethelwulf, his sons were 
raised to the kingdom, namely Ethelbald over the Western 
Angles, and Ethelbert over the men of Kent, and the 
Eastern, Southern, and Midland Angles. 

A. 861. When five years were completed, king Ethelbald 
died, and his brother Ethelbert succeeded to the possessions 
of both. In those days a large fleet of pagans came to land, 
and destroyed the royal city which is called Winton. They 
were encountered by Osric duke of Hampshire, and Ethel- 
wulf duke of Berkshire : a battle ensued ; the pagans were 
routed, and the English gained the victory. 

A. 865. After four years, from the death of king Ethel- 
bald, the pagans strengthened their position in the isle of 
Thanet, and promise to be at peace with the men of Kent, 
who on their part prepare money, ignorant of the future. 
But the Danes break their compact, and sallying out 
privately by night, lay waste all the eastern coast of Kent. 

A. 866. After one year king Ethelbert died, and his body 
rests peaceably in the monastery named Sherborne 

Chap. II. — Of the reign of king Ethelred. 

Ethelred succeeded to the throne after the death of his 
brother Ethelbert. In the same year the fleets of the tyrant 
Hingwar arrived in England from the north, and wintered 
among the East Angles, and having established their arms 
there, they get on their horses, and make peace with all the 
inhabitants in their own neighbourhood. 

A. 867. After one year that army, leaving the eastern 
parts, crossed the river Humber into Northumberland to the 
city of Evcric, which is now commonly called the city of 
Eoferwic [York]. For there was then a great civil dissen- 
sion between the inhabitants of that land, and they were so 
enraged that they also expelled their king Osbert fratn his 

26 ETHEL WERD'S CHRONICLE. [ a. d. 868- -871. 

scat ; and having confirmed their resolves, they chose an 
obscure person for their king ; and after some delay they 
turned their thoughts to raise an army and repulse those who 
were advancing. They collected together no small bodies of 
troops, and reconnoitred the enemy : their rage was excited : 
they joined battle, a miserable slaughter took place on both 
sides, and the kings were slain. Those of them who were 
left; made peace with the hostile army. 

In the same year died Eanwulf, duke of Somerset ; also 
bishop Ealstan, fifty years after his succession to the bishop- 
ric, in the diocese called Sherborne. There also his body 
now reposes ; and that of the above-named duke in the 
monastery called Glastonbury. 

A. 868. After one year therefore, the army of the pagans, 
of whose arrival we have spoken above, measured out their 
camp in a place called Snotingaham [Nottingham], and there 
they passed the winter, and Burhred king of the Mercians, 
with his nobles, consented to their remaining there without 

A. 869. At the end of a year therefore, the army was 
transported to York, and there also they measured out their 
camp in the winter season. 

A. 870. Again after a year they departed, and passed 
through Mercia into East-Anglia, and there measured out 
their camp for the winter at Thetford. King Edmund car- 
ried on war against them for a short time, but he was slain 
there by them, and his body lies entombed at a place called 
Beodoricsworthe,* and the barbarians obtained the victory, 
but with the loss of their king soon afterwards : for king 
Hingwar died the same year ; archbishop Ceolnoth also died 
that same year, and is buried in the city of Canterbury. 

A. 871. After one year therefore the army of the barba- 
rians above-mentioned set out for Reading, and the principal 
object of the impious crew was to attack the West- Saxons ; 
and three days after they came, their two consuls, forgetting 
that they were not on board their fleet, rode proudly through 
fields and meadows on horseback, which nature had denied 
to them.J 

* Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. 

+ I shall be glad if my readers will find a better translation for toil 
obscure and inflated passage. 

a.d. 871*1 1>(JKE ETHIlLWTJLF SLAIN. 27 

But duke Etlielwulf met them, and though his troops were 
few, their hearts resided in brave dwellings : they point 
their darts, they rout the enemy, and triumph in abundant 
spoils. At length four days after their meeting, Ethelred 
arrives with his army ; an indescribable battle is fought, 
now these, now those urge on the fight with spears immove- 
able ; duke Ethelwulf falls, who a short time before had 
obtained the victory : the barbarians at last triumph. The 
body of the above-named duke is privately withdrawn, and 
carried into the province of the Mercians, to a place called 
Northworthig, but Derby in the language of the Danes. 
Four days after king Ethelred with his brother Alfred fought 
again with all the army of the Danes at JEscesdune ;* and 
there was great slaughter on both sides : but at last king 
Ethelred obtained the victory. But it is proper that I should 
declare the names of those chiefs who fell there : Bagsac 
king, the veteran Sidrac their consul, the younger Sidrac 
also, the consul Osbern, the consul Frene, the consul Harold ; 
and, so to speak, all the flower of the barbarian youth was 
there slain, so that neither before nor since was ever such 
destruction known since the Saxons first gained Britain by 
their arms. 

Fourteen days after, they again took courage and a second 
battle was fought at a place called Basing : the barbarians 
came and took part over against them ; the fight began, and 
hope passed from the one side to the other ; the royal 
army was deceived, the enemy had the victory, but gained no 

Furthermore after two months the aforesaid king Ethelred 
renewed the battle, and with him was his brother Alfred, at 
Merton, against all the army of the barbarians, and a large 
number was slain on both sides. The barbarians obtained 
the victory ; bishop Heahmund there fell by the sword, and 
his body Hes buried at Caegineshamme-t Many others also 
fell or fled in that battle, concerning whom it seems to be a 
loss of time to speak more minutely at present. Lastly, 
after the above-mentioned battle, and after the Easter of the 
same year, died king Ethelred, from whose family I deriva 
my origin. 

* See William of Maimesbury, b. ii. c. 3, p. Ill, note. t Keynshaw, 


And now I have followed up my plan, dear cousin Matilda, 
and will begin to consolidate my subject ; and like a ship 
which, having sailed a long way over the waves, already 
occupies the port, to which in her patient voyage she had 
been tending : so we, like sailors, are already entering, and 
as I briefly intimated to you in my former epistle, so also in 
the prefaces to this present book, and without any impro- 
priety I again remind you, and though I cut short the course 
of that which is visionary, not impelled by necessity, but 
through love of your affection, I now send it you again more 
fully to be meditated upon concerning the origin of our 
family, and sufficiently embrace the study of your sincerity.* 

Thus far then : I will now leave obscurity and begin to 
speak concerning the sons of Ethelwulf. They were five in 
number : the first was Ethelstan, who also shared the king- 
dom with his father: the second was Ethelbald, who also 
was king of the Western English : the third was Ethelbert, 
king of Kent : the fourth was Ethelred, who after the death 
of Ethelbert succeeded to the kingdom, and was also my 
grandfather's grandfather : the fifth was Alfred, who suc- 
ceeded after all the others to the whole sovereignty, and was 
your grandfather's grandfather. Wherefore I make known 
to you, my beloved cousin Matilda, that I receive these things 
from ancient tradition, and have taken care in most brief 
style to write the history of our race down to these two 
kings, from whom we have taken our origin. To you there- 
fore, most beloved, I devote this work, compelled by the love 
of our relationship : if others receive them with haughtiness, 
they will be judged unworthy of the feast ; if otherwise, we 
advise all in charity to gather what is set before them. Let 
us return then to the story that we broke off, and to the 
death of the above-named Ethelred. His reign lasted five 
years, and he is buried in the monastery which goes by the 
name of Wimborne. 

Chap. lit. — Of the re>gn of king Alfred, 

A. 871. After these things, Alfred obtained the kingdom 
when his brothers were dead, — he also was the youngest son 
of king Ethelwulf — over all the provinces of Britain. 

* I must again request the reader to pardon the obscurity which bo fre- 
quently occurs in our author's style, and my inability to deal with such pas- 
sages ; the above is a tolerably close translation of the original. 

JLo.871-«740 TBEATY OP PEACE. 29 

There came a summer-army innumerable to Reading, and 
were eager to fight against the army of the West- Angles : to 
their aid also came those who had already long time been 
ravaging. But the army of the Angles at that time was 
small on account of the king's absence, who at the same time 
had performed his brother's obsequies, and although their 
ranks were not full, yet their hearts were firm in their 
breasts, they rejoice in the fight, and repel the enemy : but 
at length oppressed with fatigue, they cease from the fight. 
The barbarians hold possession of a sterile field of battle : 
afterwards also they spread themselves and ravage the 
country. During their foul domination, there were three 
battles fought by the Angles, besides the battles before- 
mentioned, and eleven of their consuls, whom they call 
" earls," were slain, and one of their kings. Lastly, in the 
same year the Eastern Angles made peace with them. And 
the number of years to the encamping of the barbarian 
army in Reading and to the death of king Ethelred and the 
succession of his brother Alfred was the seventy-first from 
the time that Egbert had first consolidated the kingdom, and 
forty-seven from the time that the Mercians and Western 
Angles carried on civil wars at the place called Ellandune,* 
and king Egbert received the name of victor twenty-six 
years from the time that the battle was fought in Fedredan 
[Petherton] ; and twenty years after the contest which was 
waged near the wood called Ockley, and lastly five years 
from the arrival of the pagans in the country of the East 
Angbs : and without long delay, they then went to Reading* 

A. 872. After a year had elapsed from the time of their 
coming to Reading, they measured out their camp in the 
neighbourhood of the city of London. But the Mercians 
ratify a treaty with them, and pay a stipend. 

A. 873. After one year the barbarians change their 
position to the neighbourhood of the city of Lindsey in a 
place called Torksey. The Mercian people renew their 
treaty with them. 

A. S74. After the lapse of a year, the barbarians at length 
remove to a place called Repton, and drive king Burhred 
from the kingdom beyond the sea. Twenty and two years 

• Allington, Wiltshire 


are enumerated from the time that he first occupied his 
father's kingdom. They now break the peace, and devastate 
the lands of the Mercians. The above-named king did not 
abandon his hope in Christ, but made a journey to Rome and 
died there, and his body, laid in a worthy mausoleum, reposes 
in the temple of Christ's blessed mother, which is now called 
the school of the English. At the same time Ceolwulf 
possessed the kingdom of the Mercians. 

A. 875. Lastly after a year, the barbarians divide the 
kingdom into two parts : and Halfdene the leader of the 
barbarians took one part, namely the kingdom of the 
Northumbrians, and there he chose his winter-quarters near 
the river called the Tyne, and they ravaged the country 
there on every side. But they also made frequent wars on 
the Picts and the men of Cumberland. Oskytel also, and 
Gothrun, and Anwind, their three kings, with an immense 
army, came from Repton to a place called Grantabridge 
f Cambridge], and there remained twelve months. Further- 
more in the summer of the same year, king Alfred came out 
with his army on board a fleet by sea, and the barbarians 
met them with seven tall vessels. A battle ensues, and 
the Danes are routed : the king takes one of their ships. 

A. 876. After one year, the tyrant Halfdene obtained the 
kingdom of the Northumbrians, all of whom he reduced to 
subjection. And in the course of the same year, the army 
which had been at Cambridge made a junction with the 
western army, a thing which they had not done before, near 
the town which is called Wareham, and ravaged the greater 
part of that province. Also the king ratified a treaty of 
peace with them and gave them money. But they gave him 
hostages chosen out of their army, and made oath to him on 
their sacred bracelet which they had never done to the kings 
of the other districts, that they would quickly leave their 

A. 877. But they broke the peace and contravened their 
engagements, and the following year extended their troops 
into the province of Devon, where they passed the winter at 
Exeter. Lastly their fleets put to sea and spread their sails 
to the wind : but a lamentable storm came on, and the 
greatest part of them, namely a hundred of their chief ships, 
were sunk near the rock which is called Swanwich. The 


barbarians renew their fraud and offer peace : hostages were 
given, more than were demanded, to the effect that they would 
withdraw out of the territories of king Alfred ; and they did 
so. They devastate the kingdom of the Mercians and drive 
out all the free men. They erect their huts in the town of 

A. 878. At the end of that year therefore this foul mob 
broke the compact which they had before solemnly made with 
the Western Angles, and they take up their winter-quarters 
at Chippenham. The people were everywhere unable to 
resist : some of them were driven by the impious wretches 
over the sea into Gaul. King Alfred was at this time 
straitened more than was becoming. Ethelnoth also duke of 
Somerset lived with a narrow retinue in a certain wood, and 
they built a strong-hold in the island of Athelingay,* which 
seems to have been situated in a marsh. But the aforesaid 
king fought daily battles against the barbarians, having with 
him the province of Somerset only ; no others assisted him, 
except the servants who made use of the king's pastures. In 
the same year arrived Halfdene brother of the tyrant 
Hingwar with thirty galleys, in the western parts of the 
Angles, and besieged Odda duke of Devon in a certain 
castle, and war was stirred up on all sides. The king of the 
barbarians fell, and eighty decads with him. At last the 
Danes obtain the victory. 

Meanwhile, after the Easter f of that year, king Alfred 
fought against the army that was in Chippenham, at a place 
called Ethandune,| and they obtain the victory. But after 
the decision of the battle, the barbarians promise peace, ask 
a truce, give hostages, and bind themselves by oath : their 
king submits to be baptized, and Alfred the king receives 
him from the laver in the marshy isle of Alney.§ Duke 
Ethelnoth also purified the same at a place called Wed- 
more, and king Alfred there bestowed upon him magnificent 

* Athelney, no longer an island is situated near Borough-bridge in 

+ Easter Day was the 23rd of March in the year 878. $ Heddington. 

6 Some suppose that this in A Her near Athelingay, or Athelney; but 
Atnelney itself is called Alney by the common people: it is therefore more 
likely that Athelingay and Alney were the same place, as they are at 

-„ , r - the me» *ray 
^^ ^k -^^^^^^^into the 

•^ - ■*•* ^^^ . - » tfeT went ia 
. -. ^r *-^~ "«. ** a utace caHea 

out their 

„ i^^ «*ii ^» W ?«a the tic- 
7^ ^ ^ *^ ^^ uito the 

"^ . » . _ «r a«=«s c£ *e ***** ' 
.« ._r. «au. -mm ^^ jjjto two 

r smaller 
t a»^r RM«t!d their' 

'. . 0.8U. POPE MARTIN. 5& 

2 i league, and gave hostages to the English, and twice in the 
*s_ > year they counted the spoil which they had obtained by 
-j.. fraud, in the land which borders on the southern bank of 
the Thames. The filthy crew which were then in possession 
. ^ of the East Angles, suddenly removed to a place called Bam- 
z - fleet ; and there the allied band divided ; some of them re- 
, -.mained, and some of them went beyond the sea. In the 
\.„ same year, therefore, the aforesaid king Alfred sent his fleet 
j. i into the country of the East Angles, and immediately on 
~ , their arrival, there met them at a place called Stourmouth 
■_ sixteen ships, which they forthwith ravaged, and slew the 
captains with the sword. The rest of the pirate-crew met 
'- them ; they ply their oars, their armour shines over the con- 
strained waters, the barbarians obtain the victory. In the 
_, same year died Charles the Magnificent king of the Franks, 
cut off by death before the revolution of one year ; after him 
came his uterine brother who ruled over the western coasts 
^ of Gaul. Both were sons of Louis, who had formerly pos- 
sessed the sole sovereignty : his life had reached its termina- 
" ^ tion during the eclipse of the sun aforesaid. He was son of 
" " the great king Charles, whose daughter Ethel wulf king of 
' the English had taken to wife. In the course of that year, 
a great number of barbarians landed and filled the coasts of 
the Old Saxons ; two battles were fought soon after : the 
Saxons were the victors, and the Prisons also were present 
.. in the contest. In the same year Charles the Younger suc- 
ceeded to the sovereignty of all the western parts of Gaul as 
far as the Tyrrhenian sea, and, if I may so speak, of the 
dominions of his grandfather, except the province of the 
' . Lidwiccas.* His father was Lodwicus, brother of the middle 
" , Charles whose daughter was married to Ethelwulf king of 
' the English. And both of these were sons of Lodwicus, 
'.\ namely, Lodwicus was son of Charlemagne who was the 
*{ 9on of Pepin. 

"\ In the same year died the blessed pope Martin,•( , who also 
*"j gave freedom to the school of the English, by the appointment 
J of king Alfred, and sent as a present part of the thrice blessed 
*\ cross of Christ, who is the salvation of the world. In the 
^ I course of that year, the above-named pestilential crew broke 
A their engagements, and marched in arms against king Alfred. 
'*1 * Armorica. or Bretagne. f This should be Afarimis, not Martinuo. 

34 ETHELWERD'S CHRONICLE. Iajd, 887-8891 

Lastly, after a year, they went to the lbwe: parts of Gaul, 
and fixed on a place to winter near the river Seine. Mean- 
while, the city of London was fortified by king Alfred, whom 
no civil discord could subdue, either by cunning or by force: 
all men received him as a saviour, and particularly the Sax- 
ons—except the barbarians — and those who were then held 
prisoners in their hands. Also, after his army was strength- 
ened, Ethered was appointed leader there by the aforesaid 
king, to guard the citadel. 

A. 887. Now the army which were at that time ravaging 
the country of Gaul out their way through the bridge of the 
citadel of Paris, and devastated the whole country along the 
Seine, as far as the Marne, and above its vertex, as far as 
Catsig [Chezy], where they thrice fixed their winter quarters. 
In the same year also died Charles, king of the Franks, and his 
cousin Arnulf succeeded to the kingdom, seven years before 
his uncle's death. The kingdom was then divided into five, 
and so many kings in the same : but all things are done by 
the permission of king Arnulf, and they promised to be all 
under his subjection, because they were not like him, de- 
scended from the paternal stock ; and he lived after this on 
the eastern side of the river Rhine. But Rodulf occupied 
the middle parts of the kingdom, Oda the western parts, and 
Beorngar with Witha held the kingdom of the Lombards 
from the division of the Jovian mountain.* There they 
began a civil war ; people assailed people ; the lands of both 
were continually disturbed, nor was there any hope of quiet* 

The same year, in which the barbarians had settled on the 
bridge of Paris, duke Ethelhelm received no small part of the 
money paid from the diocese of the English by the king for 
the people, and went to Rome. In the same year died 
queen Ethelswith. 

A. 888. In the lapse of the same year also, archbishop 
Athelred deceased, and Ethelwold, commander in Kent. 

A. 889. After one year, abbat Bernhelm carried to Rome 
the alms for the people, and principally those of the western 
English and of king Alfred. Then also Gothrun, king of 
the northern English, yielded his breath to Orcus ; he had 
taken the name of Athelstan, as he came out of the baptis- 
mal laver, from his godfather, king Alfred, and had his seat 
* Mount St. Barnard. 

• B.891 -893.' DEFEAT OF THE DANES. 35 

among the East- Angles, since he there also had held the 
first station. 

In the same year, the aforesaid army of barbarians re- 
moved from the river Seine to a place called Santlaudah,* 
situated between the Bretons and the Franks ; but the Bre- 
tons met them in arms, and obtained the victory, and followed 
them to the windings of a certain river, and there not a few 
of them were drowned in the waters. 

A. 891. One year afterwards, the bands of the aforesaid 
army visited the eastern parts of France ; king Arnulf met 
them ; a fight of cavalry took place before the fleets arrived. 
An army of eastern Franks came up, Saxons and Bavarians ; 
the pagans spread their sails to flee. In the same year, 
three chosen men of Hibernian race, burning with piety, 
leave their country : they privately form a boat by sewing 
ox-hides ; they put into it provisions for a week ; they sail 
seven days and seven nights, and arrive on the shores of 
Cornwall : here they left their fleet, which had been guided, 
not by the strength of their arms, but by the power of Him 
who rules all things, and set out for the court of king Alfred, 
who with his senate rejoice in their coming. From thence 
they proceed to Rome, and, as is customary with teachers of 
Christ, they essay to go thence to Jerusalem : j* .... Their 
names were, Dubslane, the first ; Macbeth, the second ; 
Maelinmun, the third, flourishing in the arts, skilled in let- 
ters, and a distinguished master of the Scots. Also in the 
same year, after Easter a comet appeared, which some think 
to be an omen of foul times, which have already past ; but it 
is the most approved theory of philosophers, that they fore- 
tel future things, as has been tried in many ways. 

A. 893. One year after the barbarians fought against king 
Arnulf, they go to Boulogne, and there build a fleet, and pass 
over into England. There they station their fleet in the Lim- 
nean port, at a place called Apoldre [ Appledore, in the eastern 
part of Kent,] and destroy an ancient castle, because there 
was but a small band of rustics within, and there they make 
their winter camp. In the course of this year, a large fleet be- 
longing to Hasten arrives on the banks of the river Thames, 

* Saint Lo. 

•f I omit this obscure passage rather than run the risk of misleading the 
■eader by an inaccurate translation of it. 



and found a citadel on the coasts of Kent, at a place called 
Middleton [Milton] : they encamp there the whole winter ; 
and the number of years that had elapsed from the glorious 
nativity of our Saviour was nine hundred, all but seven. 

After the Easter of that year, the army which had come 
from Gaul leave their camp, and trace the intricacies of a 
certain immense wood, which is called Andred, and they ex- 
tend as far as the Western Angles. Slowly as they go, they 
ravage the adjoining provinces, Hampshire and Berkshire : 
these things were told to the heir of Edward, son of king 
Alfred, who had been exercising himself in the southern 
parts of England. After this they reach the Western An- 
gles, who meet then with threatening arms and dense array 
&t Farnham : they exult, freed by the arrival of the prince, like 
sheep under the protection of the shepherd ; the tyrant is 
wounded, and his troops are driven across the river Thames 
into the northern countries. 

Meanwhile, the Danes are held besieged in Thorney isle. 
Earl Ethered, setting out from the city of London, lent his 
aid to the prince. The barbarians asked peace and a treaty : 
hostages are giveo, they promise by oath to leave the king- 
dom of the aforesaid king ; their words and deeds agree to- 
gether without delay. Lastly, they set out for the country 
of the East- Angles, formerly governed by the king Saint 
Edmund, and their ships fly round to them from the Limnean 
port to Meresige [Mersey], a place in Kent. 

In the course of the same year, Hasten breaks away with 
his band from Bamfleet, and devastates all Mercia, until they 
arrive at the end of Britain. The army, which was then in 
the eastern part of the country, supplied them with reinforce- 
ments, and the Northumbrian, in the same way. The illus- 
trious duke Ethelm, with a squadron of cavalry, and duke 
Ethelnoth, with an army of Western- Angles, followed be- 
hind them, and Ethered, earl of the Mercians, pressed after 
them with great impetuosity. The youth of both people 
join battle, and the Angles obtain the victory. These things 
are said by ancient writers to have been done at Buttington, 
and the exertions of the Danes appeared futile ; they again 
ratify peace, give hostages, and promise to leave that part o* 
the country. In the same year Danaasuda,* in Bamfleet, was 

* This must be the fortress which Hasten's men built in Bamfleet. 

».X*. a05-fl010 KING EDWARD. 37 

destroyed by the people, and they divide the treasuifc among 

After this, Sigeferth, the pirate, lands from his fleet in 
Northumbria, and twice devastates the coast, after which he 
returns home. 

A. 895. When two years were completed, from the time 
that an immense fleet came from Boulogne to Limnae, a town 
of the Angles, duke Ethelnoth set out from the western 
parts of the Angles, and goes from the city of York against 
the enemy, who devastate no small tracts of land in the king- 
dom of the Mercians, on the west of Stanford ; i. e. between 
the courses of the river Weolod* and a thick wood, called 

A. 896. In the course of one year also, died Guthfrid, 
king of the Northumbrians, on the birth-day of Christ's 
apostle, St. Bartholomew, whose body is buried at York, in 
the high church. 

A. 900. Meanwhile, after four years, from the time that 
the above-named king died, there was a great discord among 
the English, because the foul bands of the Danes still re- 
mained throughout Northumberland. Lastly, in the same 
year, king Alfred departed out of this world, that immove- 
able pillar of the Western Saxons, that man full of justice, 
bold in arms, learned in speech, and, above all other things, 
imbued with the divine instructions. For he had translated 
into his own language, out of Latin, unnumbered volumes, of 
so varied a nature, and so excellently, that the sorrowful 
book of Boethius seemed, not only to the learned, but even 
to those who heard it read, as it were, brought to life again. 
The monarch died on the seventh day before the solemnity 
of All Saints, and his body rests in peace in the city of Win- 
ton. Pray, O reader, to Christ our Redeemer, that he will 
save his soul ! 

Chap. IV. — Of the reign of king Edward, and of his wars. 

A. 901. The successor to the throne was Edward, son of 
the above-named king. He was elected by the nobles, and 
crowned with the royal crown on Whitsunday, one hundred 
years having elapsed since his great grandfather, Egbert, 

* Welland, Northamptonshire. 

38 ETIIELWERD'S CHRONICLE. [ad. 902-ttfr. 

had gained his present territories: In the same year Ethel- 
bald received, in the city of London, the bishopric of the 
city of York ; and, it appears, that the number of years com- 
pleted, since Christ came in the flesh, was nine hundred full. 

A. 902. After two years was the battle of Holme. *..... 
Five days after the festival of the blessed mother, they 
lock together their shields, brandish their swords, and vi- 
brate their lances in both hands. There fell duke Siwulf 
and Sigelm, and almost all the Kentish nobility: and 
Eohric, king of the barbarians, there descended to Orcus : 
two princes of the English, in the flower of their youth, there 
yield up the breath of life, and explore the foreign regions, 
under the waves of Acheron, and numbers of full-grown men 
fall on both sides. The barbarians remain victors, and tri- 
umph on the field of battle. 

A. 905. At length, after three years, the number of years 
completed since the beginning of the world, was six thousand 
and one hundred. 

A. 908. After three years archbishop Plegmund inaugu- 
rized, in the city of Winchester, a lofty tower, which had 
been recently founded in honour of Mary, the mother of 
God. The pontiff aforesaid, in the course of the same year 
carried to Rome the alms for the people, and for king 

A. 909. After one year the barbarians break their compact 
with king Edward, and with earl Ethered, who then ruled 
the provinces of Northumberland and Mercia. The lands of 
the Mercians are laid waste on all sides by the hosts afore- 
said, as far as the streams of the Avon, where begins the 
frontier of the West- Saxons and the Mercians. Thence they 
pass over the river Severn into the western regions, and 
gained by their devastations no little booty. But when they 
had withdrawn homewards, rejoicing in their rich spoils, 
they passed over a bridge on the eastern side of the river 
Severn, at a place commonly called Cantabridge, f the troops 
of the Mercians and West- Saxons met them : a battle ensued, 

* The particulars recorded in this passage, concerning the battle of 
Holme, are ascribed, by Florence of Worcester and the Saxon Chronicle, 
to another battle, fought three years later. This caused Petrie to suppose, 
that the paragraph in question had slipped out of its real place. 

+ Cambridge, in Gloucestershire. 

a.d. 91U- 939., KING ATHELSTAN. 3§ 

and in the plain of Wodnesfield the English obtained the 
victory : the Danish army fled, overwhelmed by the darts of 
their enemies : these things are said to have been done on 
the fifth day of August ; and their three kings fell there in 
that turmoil or battle, namely, Halfdene, Ecwils, and Hing- 
war : they lost their sovereignty, and descended to the court 
of the infernal king, and their elders and nobles with them. 

A. 910. After one year, Ethered, who survived of the 
Mercians, departed this life, and was buried peacefully in the 
city of Gloucester. 

A. 912. After two years, died Athulf in Northumbria ; 
he was at that time commander of the town called Bebban- 

A. 913. After a year, a fleet entered the mouth of the 
river Severn, but no severe battle was fought there that 
year. Lastly, the greater part of that army go to Ireland, 
formerly called Bretannis by the great Julius Caesar. 

A. 914. After one year, the day of Christ's nativity fell 
on a Sunday ; and so great was the tranquillity of that 
winter, that no one can remember anything like it either 
before or since. 

A. 917. After three years, Ethelfled the king's sister 
departed this life, and her body lies buried at Gloucester. 

A. 926. Also in the ninth year died Edward, king of the 
English. This was the end ; his name and his pertinacity 
here ceased. 

Chap. V. — Of the reign of king Athelslan, his wars and deeds. 

A. 926. The year in which the stout king Athelstan 
gained the crown of the kingdom, was the nine hundred and 
twenty-sixth from the glorious incarnation of our Saviour. 

A. 939. Therefore, after thirteen years, a fierce battle was 
fought against the barbarians at Brunandune,"!' wherefore that 
fight is called great even to the present day: then the 
barbarian tribes are defeated and domineer no longer ; they 
are driven beyond the ocean : the Scots and Picts also bow 
the neck ; the lands of Britain are consolidated together, on 
all sides is peace, and plenty of all things, nor ever did a 
fleet again come to land except in friendship with the 

• Bambrough. + Brumby, Lincolnshire. 

40 ETHEL WEED'S CHRONICLE. [a.d. 041— 851 

A. 941. Two years afterwards the venerated king Athel- 
etan died. 

Chap. VI. — Of the reign of king Edmund. 

After him Edmund succeeded to the neglected kingdom. 

A. 948. After seven years, therefore, bishop Wulfstan and 
the duke of the Mercians expelled certain deserters, namely, 
Reginald and Anlaf from the city of York, and gave them 
into the king's hand. In the same year died also queen 
Elfgiva, wife of king Edmund, and afterwards was canonized. 
In her tomb, with God's assistance, even to the present day, 
miracles are performed in the monastery called Shaftesbury. 
In the same period also died king Edmund on the solemnity 
of Augustine the Less, who also was the apostle of the 
English : and he held the kingdom six years and a half. 

Chap. VII.— Of the reign of king Edred. 

Edmund's successor was Edred his brother, to whom all 
the Northumbrians became subject ; and the Scots also give 
oaths of allegiance and immutable fidelity. Not long after 
these things he also departed in peace, on the birthday of the 
blessed pope and martyr Clement. He had held the king- 
dom nine years and half. 

Chap. VIII.— Of king Edwy. 

His successor to the throne was Edwy, who, on account ol 
his great personal beauty, was called Pankalus by the 
people. He held the sovereignty four years, and was much 

Chap. IX. — Of the reign of king Edgar. 

A. 959. After this, Edgar was crowned, and he was an 
admirable king.* 

Moreover from the nativity of our Lord and Saviour wai 
then completed the number of 973 years.* 




* Here follow two sets of Latin verses, of a most obscure and angranv 
matica] character, and altogether untranslateable. 








FROM A.D. 849 TO A.D. 887. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 849, was born Alfred, 
king of the Anglo-Saxons, at the royal village of Wanating* 
in Berkshire, which country has its name from the wood of 
Berroc, where the box- tree grows most abundantly. His gene- 
alogy is traced in the following order. King Alfred was the son 
of king Ethelwulf, who was the son of Egbert, who was the son 
of Elmund, was the son of Eafa, who was the son of Eoppa, 
who the son of Ingild. Ingild, and Ina, the famous king 
of the West- Saxons, were two brothers. Ina went to Rome, 
and there ending this life honourably, entered the heavenly 
kingdom, to reign there for ever with Christ. Ingild and 
Ina were the sons of Coenred, who was the son of Ceolwald, 
who was the son of Cudam, who was the son of Cuthwin, 
who was the son of Ceawlin, who was the son of Cynric, who 
was the son of Creoda, who was the son of Cerdic, who was 
the son of Elesa, who was the son of Gewis, from whom the 
Britons name all that nation Gegwis,f who was the son of 
Brond, who was the son of Beldeg, who was the son of Woden, 
who was the. son of Frithowald, who was the son of Frealaf, 
who was the son of Frithuwulf, who was the son of Finn 
of Godwulf, who was the son of Geat, which Geat the pagans 
long worshipped as a god. Sedulius makes mention of him 
in his metrical Paschal poem, as follows : — 

When gentile poets with their fictions vain, 
In tragic language and bombastic strain, 
To their god Geat, comic deity, 
Loud praises sing, &c. 

Wantage, t The Gewissae, generally understood to '->* the Wcn-SaxtOfc 

44 488£B'S LIFE OF ALFRED. [a.d. 640-SJ1. 

Geat was the son of Taetwa, who was the son of Beaw, 
who was the son of Sceldi, who was the son of Heremod, 
who was the son of Itermon, who was the son of Hathra, 
who was the son of Guala, who was the son of Bedwig, who 
was the son of Shem, who was the son of Noah, who was 
the son of Lamech, who was the son of Methusalem, who 
was the son of Enoch, who was the son of Malaleel, who was 
the son of Cainian, who was the son of Enos, who was the 
son of Seth, who was the son of Adam. 

The mother of Alfred was named Osburga, a religious 
woman, noble both by birth and by nature ; she was daugh- 
ter of Oslac, the famous butler of king Ethelwulf, which 
Oslac was a Goth by nation, descended from the Goths and 
Jutes, of the seed, namely, of Stuf and Whitgar, two brothers 
and counts ; who, having received possession of the Isle of 
Wight from their uncle, king Cerdic, and his son Cynric 
their cousin, slew the few British inhabitants whom they 
could find in that island, at a place called Gwihtgaraburgh ;* 
for the other inhabitants of the island had either been slain 
or escaped into exile. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 851, which was the 
third after the birth of king Alfred, Ceorl, earl of Devon, fought 
with the men of Devon against the pagans at a place called 
Wicgambeorg ;f and the Christians gained the victory ; and 
that same year the pagans first wintered in the island called 
Sheppey, which means the Sheep-isle, and is situated in the 
river Thames between Essex and Kent, but is nearer to Kent 
than to Essex ; it has in it a fine monastery.]: 

The same year also a great army of the pagans came with 
three hundred and fifty ships to the mouth of the river 
Thames, and sacked Dorobernia,§ which is the city of the Can- 
tuarians, and also the city of London, which lies on the 
north bank of the river Thames, on the confines of Essex 
and Middlesex ; but yet that city belongs in truth to Essex ; 
and they put to flight Berthwulf, king of Mercia, with all 
the army, which he had led out to oppose them. 

After these things, the aforesaid pagan host went into 
Surrey, which is a district situated on the south bank of 
the river Thames, and to the west of Kent. And Ethelwulf, 

* Carisbrooke, as may be conjectured from the name, which is a combina- 
tion of Wight and Caraburgh. 

t Wembury. £ Minster. § Canterbury. 

A.3.853.] ALFKED SENT TO HOME. 4b 

king of the West- Saxons, and his son Ethelbald, with all 
their army, fought a long time against them at a place called 
Ac-lea,* i. e. the Oak-plain, and there, after a lengthened 
battle, which vas fought with much bravery on both sides, 
the greater part of the pagan multitude was destroyed and 
cut to pieces, so that we never heard of their being so de- 
feated, either before or since, in any country, in one day; 
and the Christians gained an honourable victory, and were 
triumphant over their graves. 

In the same yeiir king Athelstan, son of king Ethel wulf, 
and earl Ealhere slew a large army of pagans in Kent, at a 
place called Sandwich, and took nine ships of their fleet ; 
the others escaped by flight. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 853, which was the 
fifth of king Alfred, Burhred, king of the Mercians, sent 
messengers, and prayed Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, 
to come and help him in reducing the midland Britons, who 
dwell between Mercia and the western sea, and who struggled 
against him most immoderately. So without delay, king 
Ethelwulf, having received the embassy, moved his army, 
and advanced with king Burhred against Britain,! and imme- 
diately, on entering that country, he began to ravage it ; and 
having reduced it under subjection to king Burhred, he re- 
turned home. 

In the same year, king Ethelwulf sent his son Alfred, 
above-named, to Rome, with an honourable escort both of 
nobles and commoners. Pope Leo [the fourth] at that time 
presided over the apostolic see, and he anointed for king 
the aforesaid Alfred, and adopted him as his spiritual son. 
The same year also, earl Ealhere, with the men of Kent, 
and Huda with the men of Surrey, fought bravely and re- 
solutely against an army of the pagans, in the island, which 
is called in the Saxon tongue, Tenet,J but Ruim in the 
British language. The battle lasted a long time, and many 
fell on both sides, and also were drowned in the water ; and 
both the earls were there slain. In the same year also, after 
Easter, Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, gave his daugh- 
ter to Burhred, king of the Mercians, and the marriage was 
celebrated royally at the royal vill of Chippenham. § 

* Ockley, in Surrey. 

+ This is one the few instances to be met with of the name Britannia aj> 
ffrd to Wales. $ Thanet. § Wilts. 

46 asseb's life of Alfred. [a.d.853. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 855, which was the 
seventh after the birth of the aforesaid king, Edmund the 
most glorious king of tLe East- Angles began to reign, on the 
eighth day before the kalends of January, i. e. on the birth- 
day of our Lord, in the fourteenth year of his age. In 
this year also died Lothaire, the Roman emperor, son of the 
pious Lewis Augustus. In the same year the aforesaid 
venerable king Ethelwulf released the tenth part of all his 
kingdom from all royal service and tribute, and with a pen 
never to be forgotten, offered it up to God the One and the 
Three in One, in the cross of Christ, for the redemption of 
his own soul and of his predecessors. In the same year he 
went to Rome with much honour ; and taking with him his 
son, the aforesaid king Alfred, for a second journey thither, 
because he loved him more than his other sons, he remained 
there a whole year; after which he returned to his own 
country, bringing with him Judith, daughter of Charles, the 
king of the Franks. 

In the meantime, however, whilst king Ethelwulf was re- 
siding beyond the sea, a base deed was done, repugnant to 
the morals of all Christians, in the western part of Selwood. 
For king Ethelbald [son of king Ethelwulf] and Ealstan, 
bishop of the church of Sherborne, with Eanwulf, earl of the 
district of Somerton, are said to have made a conspiracy 
together, that king Ethelwulf, on his return from Rome, 
should never again be received into his kingdom. This crime, 
unheard-of in all previous ages, is ascribed by many to the 
bishop and earl alone, as resulting from their counsels. Many 
also ascribe it solely to the insolence of the king, because 
that king was pertinacious in this matter, and in many other 
perversities, as we have heard related by certain persons ; 
as also was proved by the result of that which follows. 

For as he was returning from Rome, his son aforesaid, with 
all his counsellors, or, as I ought to say, his conspirators, 
attempted to perpetrate the crime of repulsing the king from 
his own kingdom ; but neither did God permit the deed, nor 
would the nobles of all Saxony consent to it. For to prevent 
this irremediable evil to Saxony, of a son warring against his 
father, or rather of the whole nation carrying on civil war, 
either on the side of the one or the other, the extraordinary 
mildness of the father, seconded by the consent of all the 
nobles, divided between the two the kingdom which had 


hitherto been undivided ; the eastern parts were given to the 
father, and the western to the son ; for where the father 
ought by just right to reign, there his unjust and obstinate 
son did reign ; for the western part of Saxony is always pre- 
ferable to the eastern. 

When Ethelwulf, therefore, was coming from Rome, all 
that nation, as was fitting, so delighted in the arrival of the 
old man, that, if he permitted them, they would have ex- 
pelled his rebellious son Ethelbald, with all his counsellors, 
out of the kingdom. m But he, as we have said, acting with 
great clemency and prudent counsel, so wished things to be 
done, that the kingdom might not come into danger ; and he 
placed Judith, daughter of king Charles, whom he had re- 
ceived from his father, by his own side on the regal throne, 
without any controversy or enmity from his nobles, even to 
the end of his life, contrary to the perverse custom of that 
nation. For the nation of the West-Saxons do not allow a 
queen to sit beside the king, nor to be called a queen, but 
only the king's wife ; which stigma the elders of that land 
say arose from a certain obstinate and malevolent queen 
of the same nation, who did all things so contrary to her 
lord, and to all the people, that she not only earned for herself 
exclusion from the royal seat, but also entailed the same 
stigma upon those who came after her ; for in consequence 
of the wickedness of that queen, all the nobles of that land 
swore together, that they would never let any king reign over 
them, who should attempt to place a queen on the throne by 
his side. 

And because, as I think, it is not known to many whence 
this perverse and detestable custom arose in Saxony, contrary 
to the custom of all the Theotiscan nations, it seems to me 
right to explain a little more fully what I have heard from 
my lord Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, as he also had 
heard it from many men of truth, who in great part recorded 
that fact. 

There was in Mercia, in recent times, a certain valiant 
king, who was feared by all the kings and neighbouring 
states around. His name was Offa, and it was he who had 
the great rampart made from sea to sea between Britain* and 
Mercia. His daughter, named Eadburga, was married to 
Bertric, king of the West- Saxons ; who immediately, having 
* Offa's dyke, between Wales and England, 

48 asseb's life of Alfred. >.d.856 

tne king's affections, and the control of almost all the king- 
dom, began to live tyrannically like her father, and to execrate 
every man whom Bertric loved, and to do all things hateful 
lo God and man, and to accuse all she could before the king, 
and so to deprive them insidiously of their life or power ; 
and if she could not obtain the king's consent, she used to 
take them off by poison : as is ascertained to have been the 
case with a certain young man beloved by the king, whom she 
poisoned, finding that the king would not listen to any accu- 
sation against him. It is said, moreover, that king Bertric 
unwittingly tasted of the poison, though the queen intended 
to give it to the young man only, and so both of them 

Bertric therefore being dead, the queen could remain no 
. longer among the West- Saxons, but sailed beyond the sea 
with immense treasures, and went to the court of the great 
and famous Charles, king of the Franks. As she stood 
before the throne, and offered him money, Charles said to 
her, " Choose, Eadburga, between me and my son, who stands 
here with me." She replied, foolishly, and without deliber- 
ation, " If I am to have my choice, I choose your son, be- 
cause he is younger than you." At which Charles smiled 
a*id answered, " If you had chosen me, you would have 
had my son ; but as you have chosen him, you shall not 
have either of us." 

However, he gave her a large convent of nuns, in which, 
having laid aside the secular habit and taken the religious 
dress, she discharged the office of abbess during a few years ; 
for; as she is said to have lived irrationally in her own country, 
so she appears to have acted still more so in that foreign 
country ; for being convicted of having had unlawful inter- 
course with a man of her own nation, she was expelled from 
the monastery by king Charles's order, and lived a vicious life 
of reproach in poverty and misery until her death ; so that 
at last, accompanied by one slave only, as we have heard 
from many who saw her, she begged her bread daily at Pavia, 
and so miserably died. 

Now king Ethelwulf lived two years after his return from 
Rome ; during which, among many other good deeds of this 
present life, reflecting on his departure according to the way 
of all flesh, that his sons might not quarrel unreasonably 
after their father's death, he orderei a will or letter of in» 


structions to be written, in which he ordered that his king- 
dom should be divided between his two eldest sons, his 
private inheritance between his sons, his daughters, and his 
relations, and the money which he left behind him between 
his sons and nobles, and for the good of his soul. Of this 
prudent policy we have thought fit to record a few instances out 
of many for posterity to imitate ; namely, such as are under- 
stood to belong principally to the needs of the soul ; for the 
others, which relate only to human dispensation, it is not 
necessary to insert in this work, lest prolixity should create 
disgust in those who read or wish to hear my work. For the 
benefit of his soul, then, which he studied to promote in all 
things from the first flower of his youth, he directed through 
all his hereditary dominions, that one poor man in ten, either 
native or foreigner, should be supplied with meat, drink, and 
clothing, by his successors, until the day of judgment ; sup- 
posing, however, that the country should still be inhabited 
both by men and cattle, and should not become deserted. 
He commanded also a large sum of money, namely, three 
hundred mancuses, to be carried to Rome for the good of his 
soul, to be distributed in the following manner : namely, a 
hundred mancuses in honour of St. Peter, specially to buy 
oil for the lights of the church of that apostle on Easter eve, 
and also at the cock-crow : a hundred mancuses in honour of 
St. Paul, for the same purpose of buying oil for the church of 
St. Paul the apostle, to light the lamps on Easter eve and at 
the cock-crow ; and a hundred mancuses for the universal 
apostolic pontiff. 

But when king Ethelwulf was dead, and buried at Stem- 
rugam,* his son Ethelbald, contrary to God's prohibition and 
the dignity of a Christian, contrary also to the custom of all 
the pagans, ascended his father's bed, and married Judith, 
daughter of Charles, king of the Franks, and drew down 
much infamy upon himself from all who heard of it. During 
two years and a half of licentiousness after his father he held 
the government of the West-Saxons. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 856, which was the 
eighth after Alfred's birth, the second year of king Charles 
III, and the eighteenth year of the reign of Ethelwulf, 

* Ingram supposes this to be Stonehenge. Staeningham, however, is tht 
common reading, which Camden thinks is Steyning, in Sussex. The Saxon 
Chronicle, a.d. 855, states, that Ethelwulf was buried at Winchester. 

50 ASSESS LIFE OF ALFBED. [A.9. 890-8G& 

king of the Wect- Saxons, Humbert, bishop of the East* 
Angles, anointed with oil and consecrated as king the glo- 
rious Edmund, with much rejoicing and great honour in the 
royal town called Burva, in which at that time was the royal 
seat, in the fifteenth year of his age, on a Friday, the twenty- 
fourth moon, being Christmas-day. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 860, which was the 
twelfth of king Alfred's age, died Ethelbald, king of the 
West-Saxons, and was buried at Sherborne. His brother 
Ethelbert, as was fitting, joined Kent, Surrey, and Sussex 
also to his dominion. 

In his days a large army of pagans came from the sea. 
and attacked and destroyed the city of Winchester. As they 
were returning laden with booty to their ships, Osric, 
earl of Hampshire, with his men, and earl Ethel wulf, with 
the men of Berkshire, confronted them bravely ; a severe 
battle took place, and the pagans were slain on every side ; 
and, finding themselves unable to resist, took to flight like 
women, and the Christians obtained a triumph. 
:.** Ethelbert governed his kingdom five years in peace, with 
' the love and respect of his subjects, who felt deep sorrow 
when he went the way of all flesh. His body was honour- 
ably interred at Sherborne by the side of his brothers. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 864, the pagans 
wintered in the isle of Thanet, and made a firm treaty with 
the men of Kent, who promised them money for adhering to 
their covenant ; but the pagans, like cunning foxes, burst 
from their camp by night, and setting at naught their engage- 
ments, and spurning at the promised money, which they 
knew was less than they could get by plunder, they ravaged 
all the eastern coast of Kent. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 866, which was the 
eighteenth of king Alfred, Ethelred, brother of Ethelbert, 
king of the West Saxons, undertook the government of the 
kingdom for five years ; and the same year a large fleet of 
pagans came to Britain from the Danube, and wintered in the 
kingdom of the Eastern- Saxons, which is called in Saxon 
East-Anglia ; and there they became principally an army of 
cavalry. But, to speak in nautical phrase, I will no longer 
commit my vessel to the power of the waves and of its sails, 
or keeping off from land steer my round-about course through 
so many calamities of wars and series of years, but will 

«.d. 8C4.] HIS EDUCATION. 51 

return to that which first prompted me to this task ; that is to 
say, I think it right in this place briefly to relate as much as 
has come to my knowledge about the character of my revered 
lord Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, during the years that 
he was an infant and a boy. 

He was loved by his father and mother, and even by aL 
the people, above all his brothers, and was educated alto- 
gether at the court of the king. As he advanced through 
the years of infancy and youth, his form appeared more 
comely than that of his brothers ; in look, in speech, and in 
manners he was more graceful than they. His noble nature 
implanted in him from his cradle a love of wisdom above all 
things ; but, with shame be it spoken, by the unworthy 
neglect of his parents and nurses, he remained illiterate even 
till he was twelve years old or more ; but he listened with 
serious attention to the Saxon poems which he often heard 
recited, and easily retained them in his docile memory. He 
was a zealous practiser of hunting in all its branches, and 
hunted with great assiduity and success ; for skill and good 
fortune in this art, as in all others, are among the gifts of 
God, as we also have often witnessed. 

On a certain day, therefore, his mother* was showing him 
and his brother a Saxon book of poetry, which she held in 
her hand, and said, " Whichever of you shall the soonest 
learn this volume shall have it for his own." Stimulated by 
these words, or rather by the Divine inspiration, and allured 
by the beautifully illuminated letter at the beginning of the 
volume, he spoke before all his brothers, who, though his 
seniors in age, were not so in grace, and answered, " "Will 
you really give that book to one of us, that is to say, to 
him who can first understand and repeat it to you ?" At this 
his mother smiled with satisfaction, and confirmed what she 
had before said. Upon which the boy took the book out of 
her hand, and went to his master to read it, and in due time 
brought it to his mother and recited it. 

After this he learned the daily course, that is, the cele- 
bration of the hours, and afterwards certain psalms, and 
several prayers, contained in a certain book which he kept 

* We must understand this epithet as denoting his mother-in-law, 
Judith, rather than his own mother, who was dead in a.d. 856, when Alfred 
was not yet seven years old. When his father brought Judith froTa Franc* 
Alfred was thirteen years old 

B 2 

52 asseb's life of Alfred. [4.0. esr. 

day and night in his bosom, as we ourselves have seen* 
and carried about with him to assist his prayers, amid all the 
bustle and business of this present life. But, sad to say i 
he could not gratify his most ardent wish to learn the liberal 
arts, because, as he said, there were no good readers at that 
time in all the kingdom of the West-Saxons. 
^ This he confessed, with many lamentations and sighs, to have 
iteen one o* his greatest difficulties and impediments in this life, 
namely, that when he was young and had the capacity for 
learning, he could not find teachers; but, when he was 
more advanced in life, he was harassed by so many diseases- 
unknown to all the physicians of this island, as well as by 
internal and external anxieties of sovereignty, and by con- 
tinual invasions of the pagans, and had his teachers and 
writers also so much disturbed, that there was no time for 
reading. But yet among the impediments of this present 
life, from infancy up to the present time, and, as I believe, 
even until his death, he continued to feel the same insatiable 
desire of knowledge, and still aspires after it. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 867, which was the 
nineteenth of the life of the aforesaid king Alfred, the army 
of pagans before mentioned removed from the East-Angles 
to the city of York, which is situated on the north bank of 
the river Humber. 

At that time a violent discord arose, by the instigation of 
the devil, among the inhabitants of Northumberland; as 
always is used to happen among a people who have incurred 
the wrath of God. For the Northumbrians at that time, asr 
we have said, had expelled their lawful king Osbert, and 
appointed a certain tyrant named ^Ella, not of royal birth,, 
over the affairs of the kingdom ; but when the pagans ap- 
proached, by divine Providence, and the union of the nobles 
for the common good, that discord was a little appeased, 
and Osbert and JElla uniting their resources, and assembling- 
an army, marched to York. The pagans fled at their ap- 
proach, and attempted to defend themselves within the walls 
of the city. The Christians, perceiving their flight and the 
terror they were in, determined to destroy the walls of the 
town, which they succeeded in doing ; for that city was not 
surrounded at that time with firm or strong walls, and when 
the Christians had made a breach as they had purposed, and 
many of them had entered into the town, the pagans, urged 

a.d.869.] HIS MABBIAGE. 63 

by despair and necessity, made a fierce sally upon them, slew 
them, routed them, and cut them down on all sides, both 
within and without the walls. In that battle fell almost all 
the Northumbrian warriors, with both the kings and a mul- 
titude of nobles ; the remainder, who escaped, made peace 
with the pagans. 

In the same year, Ealstan, bishop of the church of Sher- 
borne, went the way of all flesh, after he had honourably 
ruled his see four years, and he was buried at Sherborne. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 868, which was the 
twentieth of king Alfred's life, there was a severe famine. 
Then the aforesaid revered king Alfred, but at that time oc- 
cupying a subordinate station, asked and obtained in marriage 
a noble Mercian lady, daughter of Athelred, surnamed Mucil,* 
earl of the Gaini.f The mother of this lady was named Ed- 
burga, of the royal line of Mercia, whom we have often seen 
with our own eyes a few years before her death. She was a 
venerable lady, and after the decease of her husband, she 
remained many years a widow, even till her own death. 

In the same year, the above-named army of pagans, leaving 
Northumberland, invaded Mercia and advanced to Notting- 
ham, which is called in the British tongue, " Tiggocobauc," 
but in Latin, the " House of Caves," and they wintered 
there that same year. Immediately on their approach, Burh- 
red, king of Mercia, and all the nobles of that nation, sent 
messengers to Ethelred, king of the West-Saxons, and his 
brother Alfred, suppliantly entreating them to come and aid 
them in fighting against the, aforesaid army. Their request 
was easily obtained ; for the brothers, as soon as promised, 
assembled an immense army from all parts of their do- 
minions, and entering Mercia, came to Nottingham, all eager 
for battle, and when the pagans, defended by the castle, re- 
fused to fight, and the Christians were unable to destroy the 
wall, peace was made between the Mercians and pagans, and 
the two brothers, Ethelred and Alfred, returned home with 
their troops. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 869, which was the 
twenty-first of king Alfred's life, there was a fjreat famine 
and mortality of men, and a pestilence among the cattle. 

• Thif nobleman occurs as a witness [Mucil, dux] to many Mercian 
abutters, dated from a.d. 814 to 866. t Inhabitants of Gainsborough. 

54 ASSEB'S LIFE OF ALFKED. > t> 870 

And the aforesaid army of the pagans, galloping back to 
Northumberland, went to York, and there passed the winter. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 870, which was the 
twenty-second of king Alfred's life, the above-named army 
of pagans, passed through Mercia into East-Anglia, and 
wintered at Thetford. 

In the same year Edmund, king of the East- Angles, fought 
most fiercely against them ; but, lamentable to say, the 
pagans triumphed, Edmund was slain in the battle, and the 
enemy reduced all that country to subjection. 

In the same year Ceolnoth, archbishop of Canterbury, went 
the way of all flesh, and was buried peaceably in his own 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 871, which was the 
twenty-third of king Alfred's life, the pagan army, of hate- 
ful memory, left the East- Angles, and entering the kingdom 
of the West-Saxons, came to the royal city, cajled Reading, 
situated on the south bank of the Thames, in the district 
called Berkshire ; and there, on the third day after their ar- 
rival, their earls, with great part of the army, scoured the 
country for plunder, while the others made a rampart between 
the rivers Thames and Kennet on the right side of the same 
royal city. They were encountered by Ethel wulf, earl of 
Berkshire, with his men, at a place called Englefield ;* both 
sides fought bravely, and made long resistance. At length 
one of the pagan earls was slain, and the greater part of the 
army destroyed; upon which the rest saved themselves 
by flight, and the Christians gained the victory. 

Four days afterwards, Ethelred, king of the West-Saxons, 
and his brother Alfred, united their forces and marched to 
Reading, where, on their arrival, they cut to pieces the pagans 
whom they found outside the fortifications. But the pagans, 
nevertheless, sallied out from the gates, and a long and 
fierce engagement ensued. At last, grief to say, the Christians 
fled, the pagans obtained the victory, and the aforesaid earl 
Ethelwulf was among the slain. 

Roused by this calamity, the Christians, in shame and in- 
dignation, within four days, assembled all their forces, and 
again encountered the pagan army at a place called Ashdune,f 
which means the " Hill of the Ash." The pagans had divided 

• Englefield Green is about four miles from Windsor f Aston, in Berkshire. 


themselves into two bodies, and began to prepare defences, 
for they had two kings and many earls, so they gave the 
middle part of the army to the two kings, and the other 
part to all their earls. Which the Christians perceiving, 
divided their army also into two troops, and also began tc 
construct defences. But Alfred, as we have been told by 
those who were present, and would not tell an untruth, 
marched up promptly with his men to give them battle ; 
for king Ethelied remained a long time in his tent in prayer, 
hearing the mass, and said that he would not leave it, till 
the priest had done, or abandon the divine protection for 
that of men. And he did so too, which afterwards availed 
him much with the Almighty, as we shall declare more fully 
in the sequel. 

Now the Christians had determined that king Ethelred, 
with his men, should attack the two pagan kings, but that 
his brother Alfred, with his troops, should take the chance 
of war against the two earls. Things being so arranged, the 
king remained a long time in prayer, and the pagans came 
up rapidly to fight. Then Alfred, though possessing a sub- 
ordinate authority, could no longer support the troops of 
the enemy, unless he retreated or charged upon them with- 
out waiting for his brother. At length he bravely led his 
troops against the hostile army, as they had before arranged, 
but without awaiting his brother's arrival ; for he relied in 
the divine counsels, and forming his men into a dense pha- 
lanx, marched on at once to meet the foe. 

But here I must inform those who are ignorant of the 
fact, that the field of battle was not equally advantageous 
to both parties. The pagans occupied the higher ground, 
and the Christians came up from below. There was also a sin- 
gle thorn-tree, of stunted growth, and we have with our own eyes 
seen it Aronnd this tree the opposing armies came to- 
gether with loud shouts from all sides, the one party to 
pursue their wicked course, the other to fight for their lives, 
their dearest ties, and their country. And when both armies 
had fought long and bravely, at last the pagans, by the di- 
vine judgment, were no longer able to bear the attacks of 
the Christians, and having lost great part of their army, 
took to a disgraceful flight. One of their two kings, and 
five earls were there slain, together w:th many thousand 


pagans, who fell on all sides, covering with their bodies th« 
whole plain of Ashdune. 

There fell in that battle king Bagsac, earl Sidrac the 
elder, and earl Sidrac the younger, earl Osbern, earl Frene, 
and earl Harold; and the whole pagan army pursued its 
flight, not only until night but until the next day, even until 
they reached the stronghold from which they had sallied. 
The Christians followed, slaying all they could reach, until it 
became dark. 

After fourteen days had elapsed, king Eth aired, with his 
brother Alfred, again joined their forces and marched to 
Basing to fight with the pagans. The enemy came together 
from all quarters, and after a long contest gained the victory. 
After this battle, another army came from beyond the sea, 
and joined them. 

The same year, after Easter, the aforesaid king Ethelred, 
naving bravely, honourably, and with good repute, governed 
his kingdom five years, through much tribulation, went the 
way of all flesh, and was buried in Wimborne Minster, 
where he awaits the coming of the Lord, and the first resur- 
rection with the just. 

The same year, the aforesaid Alfred, who had been up to 
that time only of secondary rank, whilst his brothers were 
alive, now, by God's permission, undertook the govern- 
ment of the whole kingdom, amid the acclamations of all the 
people ; and if he had chosen, he might have done so be- 
fore, whilst his brother above-named was still alive ; for in 
wisdom and other qualities he surpassed all his brothers, and 
moreover, was warlike and victorious in all his wars. And 
when he had reigned one month, almost against his will, for 
he did not think he could alone sustain the multitude and 
ferocity of the pagans, though even during his brothers' 
lives, he had borne the woes of many, — he fought a battle 
with a few men, and on very unequal terms, against all the 
army of the pagans, at a hill called Wilton, on the south 
bank of the river Wily, from which river the whole of 
that district is named, and after a long and fierce engage- 
ment, the pagans, seeing the danger they were in, and no 
longer able to bear the attack of their enemies, turned their 
backs and fled. But, oh, shame to say, they deceived their 
too audacious pursuers, and again rallying, gained the vie* 

a.d. 871-875. XING OF MEBC1* BANISHED. 57 

tory. Let no one be surprised that the Christians had but 
a small number of men, for the Saxons had been worn out 
by eight battles in one year, against the pagans, of whom 
they had slain one king, nine dukes, and Enumerable troops 
of soldiers, besides endless skirmishes, both by night and 
by day, in which the oft-named Alfred, and all his chief- 
tains, with their men, and several of his ministers, were en- 
gaged without rest or cessation against the pagans. How 
many thousand pagans fell in these numberless skirmishes 
God alone knows, over and above those who were slain in 
the eight battles above-mentioned. In the same year the 
Saxons made peace with the pagans, on condition that they 
should take their departure, and they did so. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 872, the twenty- 
fourth of king Alfred's life, the above-named army of pagans 
went to London, and there wintered. The Mercians made 
peace with them. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 873, the twenty- 
fifth of king Alfred, the above-named army, leaving Lon- 
don, went into the country of the Northumbrians, and there 
wintered in the district of Lindsey; and the Mercians again 
made treaty with them. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 874, the twenty- 
sixth since the birth of king Alfred, the army before so 
often mentioned left Lindsey and marched to Mercia, 
where they wintered at Repton. Also they compelled Burh- 
red, king of Mercia, against his will, to leave his king- 
dom and go beyond the sea to Rome, in the twenty-second 
year of his reign. He did not long live after his arrival, 
but died there, and was honourably buried in the school of 
the Saxons, in St. Mary's church, where he awaits the Lord's 
coming and the first resurrection with the just. The pagans 
also, after his expulsion, subjected the whole kingdom of the 
Mercians to their dominion ; but by a most miserable ar- 
rangement, gave it into the custody of a certain foolish man, 
named Ceolwulf, one of the king's ministers, on condition 
that he should restore it to them, whenever they should wish 
to have it again ; and to guarantee this agreement, he gave 
them hostages, and swore that he would not oppose their will, 
but be obedient to them in every respect. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 875, which was the 
27th of king Alfred, the above-named a* my leaving Repton , 


59 assek's life of Alfred. [*a87«. 

divided into two bodies, one of which went with Halfdene into 
Northnmbria, and having wintered there near the Tyne, re- 
duced all Northumberland to subjection ; they also ravaged 
the Picts and the Strath- Clydensians.* The other division, with 
Gothrun, Oskytel, and Anwiund, three kings of the pagans, 
went to a place called Grantabridge,+ and there wintered. 

In the same year, king Alfred fought a battle by sea 
against six ships of the pagans, and took one of them ; the 
rest escaped by flight. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 876, being the twenty- 
eighth year of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army of the 
pagans, leaving Grantabridge by night, entered a castle called 
Wareham, where there is a monasterium of holy virgins be- 
tween the two rivers FraunJ and Trent, in the district which 
is called in British Durngueis, but in Saxon Thornsata, placed 
in a most secure situation, except that it was exposed to danger 
on the western side from the nature of the ground. With 
this army Alfred made a solemn treaty, to the effect that 
they should depart out of the kingdom, and for this they 
made no hesitation to give as many hostages as he named; also 
they swore an oath over the Christian relics,§ which with king 
Alfred were next in veneration after the Deity himself, that 
they would depart speedily from the kingdom. But they again 
practised their usual treachery, and caring nothing for the 
nostages or their oaths, they broke the treaty, and sallying forth 
by night, slew all the horsemen that the king had round him, 
and turning off into Devon, to another place called in Saxon 
Eocanceaster,\\ but in British Cair-wisc, which means in Latin, 
the city of Ex, situated on the eastern bank of the river Wise, 
they directed their course suddenly towards the south sea, 
which divides Britain and Gaul, and there passed the winter. 

In the same year, Halfdene, king of those parts, divided 
out the whole country of Northumberland between himself 
and his men, and settled there with his army. In the same 
year, Rollo with his followers penetrated into Normandy. 

This same Rollo, duke of the Normans, whilst wintering it. 
Old Britain, or England, at the head of his troops, enjoyed 

• Stratclyde Britons. t Cambridge, t Th© Frome. 

§ They swore oaths to Alfred on the holy ring, says the Saxon Chronicle, 
p. 355. The most solemn manner of swearing among the Danes and othe* 
northern nations was by their arms. Olaus Magnus, lib. viii. c. 2. 

;i Exeter 

A j). 877,878.] ENGAGEMENT AT 8EA. 59 

one night a vision revealing to him the future. See more of 
this Rollo in the Annals.* 

In the year 877, the pagans, on the approach of autumn, 
partly settled in Exeter, and partly marched for plunder into 
Mercia. The number of that disorderly crew increased every 
day, so that, if thirty thousand of them were slain in one 
battle, others took their places to double the number. Then 
king Alfred commanded boats and galleys, i. e. long ships, to 
be built throughout the kingdom, in order to offer battle by 
sea to the enemy as they were coming. On board of these 
he placed seamen, and appointed them to watch the seas. 
Meanwhile he went himself to Exeter, where the pagans 
were wintering, and having shut them up within the walls, 
laid siege to the town. He also gave orders to his sailors to 
prevent them from obtaining any supplies by sea ; and his 
sailors were encountered by a fleet of a hundred and twenty 
ships full of armed soldiers, who were come to help their 
countrymen. As soon as the king's men knew that they were 
fitted with pagan soldiers, they leaped to their arms, and 
bravely attacked those barbaric tribes: but the pagans, —M 
had now for almost a month been tossed and almost wrecked 
among the waves of the sea, fought vainly against them; 
their bands were discomfited in a moment, and all were sunk 
and drowned in the sea, at a place called Suanewic.f 

In the same year the army of pagans, leaving Wareham, 
partly on horseback and partly by water, arrived at Suane- 
wic, where one hundred and twenty of their ships were lost ; J 
and king Alfred pursued their land-army as far as Exeter ; 
there he made a covenant with them, and took hostages that 
they would depart. 

The same year, in the month of August, that army went 
into Mercia, and gave part of that country to one Ceolwulf, 
a weak-minded man, and one of the king's ministers ; the 
other part they divided among themselves. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 878, which was the 

* It is necessary to inform the reader that many passages of this work 
are modern interpolations, made in the old MS. by a later hand. The 
u Annals M referred to in the text are supposed not to be a genuine work 
of Asser. 

f Swanwich, in Dorsetshire. 

X This clause is a mere repetition of the preceding. See a former not* 
lathi* page. 


thirtieth of king Alfred's life, the army above-mentioned 
left Exeter, and went to Chippenham, a royal villa, situ- 
ated in the west of Wiltshire, and on the eastern bank of 
the river, which is called in British, the Avon. There they 
wintered, and drove many of the inhabitants of that country 
beyond the sea by the force of their arms, and by want of 
the necessaries of life. They reduced almost entirely to sub- 
jection all the people of that country. 

At the same time the above-named Alfred, king of the 
West-Saxons, with a few of his nobles, and certain soldiers 
and vassals, used to lead an unquiet life among the wood- 
lands* of the county of Somerset, in great tribulation; for he 
had none of the necessaries of life, except what he could 
forage openly or stealthily, by frequent sallies, from the pa- 
gans, or even from the Christians who had submitted to the 
rule of the pagans, and as we read in the Life of St. Neot, 
at the house of one of his cowherds. 

But it happened on a certain day, that the countrywoman, 
wife of the cowherd, was preparing some loaves to bake, 
and the king, sitting at the hearth, made ready his bow and 
arrows and other warlike instruments. The unlucky woman 
espying the cakes burning at the fire, ran up to remove 
them, and rebuking the brave king, exclaimed : — 

Ca'sn thee mind the ke-aks, man, an' doossen zee 'em burn ? 
I'm boun thee's eat 'em vast enough, az zoon az tiz the tum.f 

The blundering woman little thought that it was king Al- 
fred, who had fought so many battles against the pagans, and 
gained so many victories over them. 

But the Almighty not only granted to the same glorious king 
victories over his enemies, but also permitted him to be harass- 
ed by them, to be sunk down by adversities, and depressed 
by the low estate of his followers, to the end that he might 
learn that there is one Lord of all things, to whom every 
knee doth bow, and in whose hand are the hearts of kings; 
who puts down the mighty from their seat and exalteth the 
humble ; who suffers his servants when they are elevated at 
the summit of prosperity to be touched by the rod of ad- 

* Athelney, a morass formed by the conflux of the Thone and the Par- 
ret. See Saxon Chron. p. 356, and Chronicle of Ethelwerd, p. 31. 

f The original here is in Latin verse, and nay therefore be rendered into 
English verse, but such as every housewife in Somersetshire would under* 


versity, that in their humility they may not despair of God's 
mercy, and in their prosperity they may not boast of their 
honours, but may also know, to whom they owe all the 
things which they possess. 

We may believe that the calamity was brought upon the 
king aforesaid, because, in the beginning of his reign, when 
he was a youth, and influenced by youthful feelings, he would 
not listen to the petitions which his subjects made to him 
for help in their necessities, or for relief from those who 
oppressed them ; but he repulsed them from him, and paid 
no heed to their requests. This particular gave much annoy- 
ance to the holy man St. Neot, who was his relation, and 
often foretold to him, in the spirit of prophecy, that he would 
suffer great adversity on this account ; but Alfred neither at- 
tended to the reproof of the man of God, nor listened to his 
true prediction. Wherefore, seeing that a man's sins must 
be corrected either in this world or the next, the true and 
righteous Judge was willing that his sin should not go un- 
punished in this world, to the end that he might spare 
him in the world to come. From this cause, therefore, the 
aforesaid Alfred often fell into such great misery, that some- 
times none of his subjects knew where he was or what had 
become of him. 

In the same year the brother* of Hingwar and Halfdene, 
with twenty-three ships, after much slaughter of the Chris- 
tians, came from the country of Demetia,f where he had 
wintered, and sailed to Devon, where, with twelve hundred 
others, he met with a miserable death, being slain while com- 
mitting his misdeeds, by the king's servants, before the castle 
of Cynuit (KynwithJ), into which many of the king's servants, 
. with their followers, had fled for safety. The pagans, seeing 
that the castle was altogether unprepared and unfortified, 
except that it had walls in our own fashion, determined not 
to assault it, because it was impregnable and secure on all 
sides, except on the eastern, as we ourselves have seen, but 
they began to blockade it, thinking that those who were 
inside would soon surrender either from famine or want of 
water, for the castle had no spring near it. But the result 
did not fall out as they expected ; for the Christians, before 
they began to suffer from want, inspired by Heaven, judging 

* Probably the sanguinary Hubba. + Or South Wales. 

J Kynwith castf e stood on the river Taw. Camden, p. 35. 

62 AS8ER'S UFE OP ALFRED. La,d. 87a 

it much better to gain victory or death, attacked the pagans 
suddenly in the morning, and from the first cut them down 
in great numbers, slaying also their king, so that few escaped 
to their ships ; and there they gained a very large booty, and 
amongst other things the standard called Raven; for they 
say that the three sisters of Hingwar and Hubba, daughters 
of Lodobroch, wove that flag and got it ready in one day. 
They say, moreover, that in every battle, wherever that flag 
went before them, if they were to gain the victory a live 
crow would appear flying on the middle of the flag ; but if 
they were doomed to be defeated it would hang down motion- 
less, and this was often proved to be so. 

The same year, after Easter, king Alfred, with a few fol- 
lowers, made for himself a stronghold in a place called 
Athelney, and from thence sallied with his vassals and the 
nobles of Somersetshire, to make frequent assaults upon the 
pagans. Also, in the seventh week after Easter, he rode to 
the stone of Egbert,* which is in the eastern part of the wood 
which is called Selwood,f which means in Latin Silva Magna, 
the Great Wood, but in British Coit-mawr. Here he was met 
by all the neighbouring folk of Somersetshire, and Wiltshire, 
and Hampshire, who had not, for fear of the pagans, fled 
beyond the sea ; and when they saw the king alive after such 
great tribulation, they received him, as he deserved, with joy 
and acclamations, and encamped there for one night. When 
the following day dawned, the king struck his camp, and 
went to Okely,J where he encamped for one night. The 
next morning he removed to Edington, and there fought 
bravely and perseveringly against all the army of the pagans, 
whom, with the divine help, he defeated with great slaughter, 
and pursued them flying to their fortification. Immediately 
he slew all the men, and carried off all the booty that he 
could find without the fortress, which he immediately laid 
siege to with all his army ; and when he had been there 
fourteen days, the pagans, driven by famine, cold, fear, and 
last of all by despair, asked for peace, on the condition that 
they should give the king as many hostages as he pleased, 
but should receive none of him in return, in which form they 

* Now called Brixton Deverill, in Wilts. 

+ Selwood Forest extended from Frome to Burham, and was probablv 
much larger at one time. 
t Or Iglea. Supposed to be Leigh, now Westbuty, Wilts. 

jld. 670-882.] BAPTISM OF GOTHliUN. 63 

had never before made a treaty with any one. The king, 
hearing that, took pity upon them, and received such hostages 
as he chose ; after which the pagans swore, moreover, that 
they would immediately leave the kingdom ; and their king, 
Gothrun, promised to embrace Christianity, and receive 
baptism at king Alfred's hands. All of which articles he 
and his men fulfilled as they had promised. For after seven 
weeks Gothrun, king of t^e pagans, with thirty men chosen 
from the army, came to Alfred at a place called Aller, near 
Athelney, and there king Alfred, receiving him as his son 
by adoption, raised him up from the holy laver of baptism 
on the eighth day, at a royal villa named Wedmore,* where 
the holy chrism was poured upon him.f After his baptism he 
remained twelve nights with the king, who, with all his 
nobles, gave him many fine houses. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 879, which was the 
thirty-first of king Alfred, the aforesaid army of pagans 
leaving Chippenham, as they had promised, went to Ciren- 
cester, which is called in British Cair Cori, and is situate in 
the southern part of the Wiccii,J and there they remained 
one year. 

In the same year, a large army of pagans sailed from 
foreign parts into the river Thames, and joined the army 
which was already in the country. They wintered at Fulham 
near the river Thames. 

In the same year an eclipse of the sun took place, between 
iiree o'clock and the evening, but nearer to three o'clock. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 880, which was the 
thirty-second of king Alfred, the above named army of 
pagans left Cirencester, and went among the East Angles, 
where they divided out the country and began to settle. 

The same year the army of pagans, which had wintered at 
Fulham, left the island of Britain, and sailed over the sea 
to the eastern part of France, where they remained a year 
at a place called Ghent. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 881, which was the 

• Wedmore is four miles and three qtarters from Axbridge, in Somer- 

+ In the Saxon Chronicle (a.d. 878) ft is said, that Gothrun was bap- 
\ized at Aller, and his chrism-loosing was at Wedmore. The chrismal was 

white linen cloth put on the head at the administration of baptism, which 
was taken off at tne expiration of eight days. 

t Inhabitants of Gloucester, Worcester, and part of Warwickshire. 

64 ASSER'S LIFE OF ALFRED. [a.d. 883, 88t 

thirty -third of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army went higher 
up into France ; and the French fought against them ; and 
after the battle the pagans obtained horses and became an 
army of cavalry. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 882, the thirty-fourth 
of king Alfred's life, the above named army steered their 
ships up into France by a river called the Mese [Meuse] and 
there wintered one year. 

In the same year Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, fought 
a battle by sea against the pagan fleet, of which he captured 
two ships, having slain all who were on board; and the 
two commanders of two other ships, with all their crews, 
distressed by the battle and the wounds which they had re- 
ceived, laid down their arms and submitted to the king. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 883, which was the 
thirty-fifth of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army went 
up the river called Scald [Scheldt] to a convent of nuns called 
Cundoht [Conde] and there remained a year. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 884, which was the 
thirty-sixth of king Alfred's life, the aforesaid army divided 
into two parts ; one body of them went into - East France, 
and the other coming to Britain entered Kent, where they 
besieged a city called in Saxon Rochester, and situated on 
the eastern bank of the river Medway. Before the gate of 
the town the pagans suddenly erected a strong fortress, but 
yet they were unable to take the city, because the citizens 
defended themselves bravely, until king Alfred came up to 
help them with a large army. Then the pagans abandoned 
their fortress, and all their horses which they had brought 
with them out of France, and leaving behind them in the 
fortress the greater part of their prisoners, on the arrival of 
the king, fled immediately to their ships, and the Saxons im- 
mediately seized on the prisoners and horses left by the 
pagans ; and so the pagans, compelled by stern necessity, 
returned the same summer to France. 

In the same year Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, led 
his fleet, full of fighting men, out of Kent to the country of 
the East Angles, for the sake of plunder ;* and, when they 

* This expression paints in strong colours the unfortunate and divided 
state of England at this period, for it shows that the Danes had settled 
.possession of parts of it. In fact, all traces of the heptarchy, or ancient 
division of the island into provinces, did not entirely disappear until I 
rears after the Norman conquest. 


had arrived at the mouth cf the river Stour,* immediately 
thirteen ships of the pagans met them, prepared for battle ; 
a fierce fight ensued, and all the pagans, after a brave resist- 
ance, were slain ; all the ships, with all their money, were 
taken. After this, while the royal fleet were reposing, the 
pagans, who lived in the eastern part of England, assembled 
their ships, met the same royal fleet at sea in the mouth of 
the same river, and, after a naval battle, the pagans gained 
the victory. 

In the same year, also, Carloman, king of the Western 
Franks, whilst hunting a wild boar, was miserably killed by 
a large animal of that species, which inflicted a dreadful 
wound on him with its tusk. His brother Louis [III], who 
had also been king of the Franks, died the year before. Thest 
two brothers were sons of Louis, king of the Franks, who 
had died in the year above mentioned, in which the eclipse 
of the sun took place ; and it was he whose daughter Judith 
was given by her father's wish in marriage to Ethel wulf, 
king of the West Saxons. 

In the same year also a great army of the pagans came 
from Germany into the country of the ancient Saxons, which 
is called in Saxon Ealdseaxum.f To oppose them the said 
Saxons and Frisons joined their forces, and fought bravely 
twice in that same year. In both those battles the Christians, 
with the merciful aid of the Lord, obtained the victory. 

In the same year also, Charles, king of the Almains, re- 
ceived, with universal consent, all the territories which lie 
between the Tyrrhenian sea and that gulf which runs between 
the old Saxons and the Gauls, except the kingdom of Ar- 
morica, i. e. Lesser Britain. This Charles was the son of 
king Louis, who was brother of Charles, king of the Franks, 
father of the aforesaid queen Judith; these two brothers 
were sons of Louis, but Louis was the son of the great, the 
ancient, and wise Charlemagne, who was the son of Pepin. 

In the same year pope Martin, of blessed memory, went 
the way of all flesh; it was he who, in regard for Alfred, 
&ing of the Anglo-Saxons, and at his request, freed the 
school of the Anglo-Saxons resident at Rome from all tribute 
and tax. He also sent many gifts on that occasion, among 

* Not the river Stour, in Kent; but the Stour which divides Essex (kin 
Suffolk. Lambard fixes the battle at Harwich haven. 
+ Or. Old Saxon. 


66 ASSKfi's XIFE OF ALFRED. [A.a 8S4. 

wliich was no small portion of the holy and venerable cross 
on which our Lord Jesus Christ was suspended, for the 
general salvation of mankind. 

In the same year, also the army of pagans, which dwelt 
among the East Angles, disgracefully broke the peace which 
•they had concluded with king Alfred. 

Wherefore, to return to that from which I digressed, that 
I may not be compelled by my long navigation to abandon 
the port of rest which I was making for, I propose, as far as 
my knowledge will enable me, to speak of the life and cha- 
racter and just conduct of my lord Alfred, king of the 
Anglo-Saxons, after he married the above named respected 
lady of Mercian race, his wife ; and, with God's blessing, I 
will despatch it succinctly and briefly, as I promised, that I 
may not offend the delicate minds of my readers by prolixity 
in relating each new event. 

His nuptials were honourably celebrated in Mercia, among 
innumerable multitudes of people of both sexes ; and after 
continual feasts, both by night and by day, he was imme- 
diately seized, in presence of all the people, by sudden and 
overwhelming pain, as yet unknown to all the physicians ; 
for it was unknown to all who were then present, and even 
to those who daily see him up to the present time, — which, 
sad to say ! is the worst of all, that he should have protracted 
it so long from the twentieth to the fortieth year of his life, 
and even more than that through the space of so many years,— 
from what cause so great a malady arose. For many thought 
that this was occasioned by the favour and fascination of 
the people who surrounded him ; others, by some spite of the 
devil, who is ever jealous of the good ; others, from an un- 
usual kind of fever. He had this sort of severe disease from 
his childhood ; but once, divine Providence so ordered it, 
that when he was on a visit to Cornwall for the sake of 
hunting, and had turned out of the road to pray in a certain 
chapel, in which rests the body of Saint Guerir,* and now 
jalso St. Neotf rests there, — for king Alfred was always from 
is infancy a frequent visitor of holy places for the sake of 
rayer and almsgiving, — he prostrated himself for private 
ievotion, and, after some time spent therein, he entreated of 

* St. Guerir's church was at Ham Stoke, in Cornwall, 
t An interesting account of St. Neot wul be found in Gorham'a History 
*nd Antiquit : es of Eynesbury and St. Neot's. 

4.A 884.1 HIS FAMILY. 67 

God's mercy, that n his boundless clemency he would ex- 
change the torments of the malac»y which then afflicted him 
for some other lighter disease ; bat with this condition, that 
«nch disease should not show itself outwardly in his body, 
test he should be an object of contempt, and less able to 
^benefit mankind ; for he had great dread of leprosy or blind- 
mess, or any such complaint, as makes men useless or con 
temptible when it afflicts them. When he had finished his 
prayers, he proceeded on his journey, and not long after ha 
tfelt within him that by the hand of the Almighty he was 
thealed, according to his request, of his disorder, and that it 
Tvas entirely eradicated, although he had first had even this 
-complaint in the flower of his youth, by his devout and pious 
prayers and supplications to Almighty God. For if I may 
be allowed to speak briefly, but in a somewhat preposterous 
order, of his zealous piety to God, in the flower of his youth, 
before he entered the marriage state, he wished to strengthen 
his mind in the observance of God's commandments, for he 
perceived that he could with difficulty abstain from gratifying 
Ms carnal desires ; and, because he feared the anger of God, 
if he should do anything contrary to his will, he used often 
to rise in the morning at the cock-crow, and go to pray in the 
•churches and at the relics of the saints. There he prostrated 
himself on the ground, and prayed that God in his mercy 
would strengthen his mind still more in his service by some 
infirmity such as he might bear, but not such as would 
render him imbecile and contemptible in bis -worldly duties ; 
and when he had often prayed with much devotion to this 
effect, after an interval of some time, Providence vouchsafed 
to afflict him with the above-named disease, which he bore 
long and painfully for many years, and even despaired of 
life, until he entirely got rid of it by his prayers ; but, sad 
to say ! it was replaced, as we have said, at his marriage by 
another which incessantly tormented . him, night and day, 
from the twentieth to the forty-fourth, year of his life. Bui 
if ever, by God's mercy, he was relieved from this infirmity 
for a single day or night, yet the fear and dread of that 
<lreadful malady never left him, but rendered him almost 
useless, as he thought, for every duty, whether human, or 

The sons and daughters, which he had by his wife above 
mentioned were Ethelfled the eldest, after whom came Ed« 

r 2 


ward, then Ethelgiva, then Ethelswitha, and Ethelwerd, 
besides those who died in their infancy, one of whom was 
Edmund. Ethelfled, when she arrived at a marriageable age, 
was united to Ethered, earl of Mercia ; Ethelgiva also was 
dedicated to God, and submitted to the rules of a monastic 
life. Ethelwerd the youngest, by the divine counsels and the 
admirable prudence of the king, was consigned to the school* 
of learning, where, with the children of almost all the nobi- 
lity of the country, and many also who were not noble, he 
prospered under the diligent care of his teachers. Books in 
both languages, namely, Latin and Saxon, were both read in 
the school. They also learned to write ; so that before they 
were of an age to practice manly arts, namely, hunting ana!, 
such pursuits as befit noblemen, they became studious and 
clever in the liberal arts. Edward and Ethelswitha were bred 
up in the king's court and received great attention from their 
attendants and nurses ; nay, they continue to this day, with 
the love of all about them, and showing affability, and even 
gentleness towards all, both natives and foreigners, and in 
complete subjection to their father ; nor, among their other 
studies which appertain to this life and are fit for noble 
youths, are they suffered to pass their time idly and unprofit- 
ably without learning the liberal arts ; for they have carefully 
learned the Psalms and Saxon books, especially the Saxon 
poems, and are continually in the habit of making use of 

In the meantime, the king, during the frequent wars and 
other trammels of this present life, the invasions of the 
pagans, and his own daily infirmities of body, continued to 
carry on the government, and to exercise hunting in all its 
branches ; to teach his workers in gold and artificers of all 
kinds, his falconers, hawkers and dog-keepers ; to build houses, 
majestic and good, beyond all the precedents of his ances- 
tors, by his new mechanical inventions ; to recite the Saxon 
books, and especially to learn by heart the Saxon poems, and 
to make others learn them ; and he alone never desisted from 
studying, most diligently, to the best of his ability; he attended 
the mass and other daily services of religion ; he was fre- 
quent in psalm-singing and prayer, at the hours both of 
the day and the night. He also went to the churches, as we 
have already said, in the night-time to pray, secretly, and 
unknown to his courtiers; he bestowed alms and largesse? on 


both natives and foreigners of all countries ; he was affable 
and pleasant to all, and curiously eager to investigate things 
unknown. Many Franks, Frisons, Gauls, pagans, Britom 
Scots, and Armoricans, noble and ignoble, submitted vo- 
luntarily to his dominion ; and all of them, according to 
their nation and deserving, were ruled, loved, honoured, and 
enriched with money and power. Moreover, the king was in 
the habit of hearing the divine scriptures read by his own coun- 
trymen, or, if by any chance it so happened, in company with 
foreigners, and he attended to it with sedulity and solicitude. 
His bishops, too, and all ecclesiastics, his earls and nobles, 
ministers and friends, were loved by him with wonderful af- 
fection, and their sons, who were bred up in the royal house* 
hold, were no less dear to him than his own ; he had them 
instructed in all kinds of good morals, and among other 
things, never ceased to teach them letters night and day ; but 
as if he had no consolation in all these things, and suffered 
no other annoyance either from within or without, yet he 
was harassed by daily and nightly affliction, that he com- 
pla <\ to God, and to all who were admitted to his familiar 
love, tnut Almighty Qod had made him ignorant of divine 
wisdom, and of the liberal arts ; in this emulating the pious, 
the wise, and wealthy Solomon, king of the Hebrews, who 
at first, despising all present glory and riches, asked wisdom 
of God, and found both, namely, wisdom and worldly glory ; 
as it is written, " Seek first the kingdom of God and his 
righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." 
But God, who is always the inspector of the thoughts of the 
mind within, and the instigator of all good intentions, and a 
most plentiful aider, that good desires may be formed, — for 
he would not instigate a man to good intentions, unless he 
also amply supplied that which the man justly and properly 
wishes to have, — instigated the king's mind within ; as it is 
written, " I will hearken what the Lord God will say concern- 
ing me." He would avail himself of every opportunity to 
procure coadjutors in his good designs, to aid him in his 
strivings after wisdom, that he might attain to what he aimed 
at ; and, like a prudent bird, which rising in summer with 
the early morning from her beloved nest, steers her rapid 
flight through the uncertain tracks of ether, and descends 
on the manifold and varied flowers of grasses, herbs, and 
shrub*, essaying that which pleases most, thr t she may bca 


It to her home, so did he direct his eyes afar, and *seek 
without, that which he had not within, namely, in his Own 

But God at that time, as some consolation to tne king'* 
benevolence, yielding to his complaint, sent certain lights 
to illuminate him, namely, Werefrith, bishop of the cbtmrch. 
of Worcester, a man well versed in divine scripture, * "ttho, 
by the king's command, first turned the books of the- 
Dialogues of pope Gregory and Peter, his disciple, from* 
Latin into Saxon, and sometimes putting sense for sense, 
interpreted them with clearness and elegance. After him 
was Plegmund, a Mercian by birth, archbishop of the church 
of Canterbury, a venerable man, and endowed with wisdom ; 
Ethelstan also, and Werewulf, his priests and chaplains, Mer- 
cians by birth, and erudite. These four had been invited out 
of Mercia by king Alfred, who exalted them with many 
honours and powers in the kingdom of the West-Saxons, 
besides the privileges which archbishop Plegmund and bishop 
Werefrith enjoyed in Mercia. By their teaching and wisdom* 
the king's desires increased unceasingly, and were gratified. 
Night and day, whenever he had leisure, he commanded -such 
men as these to read books to him ; for he never suffered 
himself to be without one of them, wherefore he possessed a 
knowledge of every book, though of himself he could not 
yet understand anything of books, for he had not yet learned 
to read any thing. 

But the king's commendable avarice could not be gratified 
even in this ; wherefore he sent messengers beyond the sea 
to Gaul, to procure teachers, and he invited from thence 
Grimbald * priest and monk, a venerable man, and good 
singer, adorned with every kind of ecclesiastical discipline 
and good morals, and most learned in holy scripture. He 
also obtained from thence John,f also priest and monk, a man 
of most energetic talents, and learned in all kinds of literary 
science, and skilled in many other arts. By the teaching of 
these men the king's mind was much enlarged, and he en- 
riched and honoured them with much influence. 

In these times, I also came into Saxony out of the furthest 
coasts of Western Britain ; and when I had proposed to ga 
to him through many intervening provinces, I arrived in the 

* Grimbaltl was provost of St. Omer's. 
. t John had been connected with the monastery of Corbie. 


country of the Saxons, who live on the right hand, which in 
Saxon is called Sussex, under the guidance of some of that 
nation ; and there I first saw him in the royal will, which is 

• called Dene.* He received me with kindness, and among 
other familiar conversation, he asked me eagerly to devote 
myself to his service and become his friend, to leave every 
thing which I possessed on the left, or western bank of the 
Severn, and he promised he would give more than an equi- 

. valent for it in his own dominions. I replied that I could 
not incautiously and rashly promise such things; for it 
seemed to me unjust, that I should leave those sacred 
places in which I had been bred, educated, and crowned,f 
and at last ordained, for the sake of any earthly honour and 
power, unless by compulsion. Upon this, he said, " If you 
cannot accede to this, at least, let me have your service in 
part : spend six months of the year with me here, and the 
other six in Britain." To this, I replied, " I could not even 
promise that easily or hastily without the advice of my 

• friends." At length, however, when I perceived that he was 
anxious for my services, though I knew not why, I promised 
him that, if my life was spared, I would return to him after 
six months, with such a reply as should be agreeable to him 
as well as advantageous to me and mine. With this answer 

• he was satisfied, and when I had given him a pledge to return 
at the appointed time, on the fourth day we left him and 
returned on horseback towards our own country. 

After our departure, a violent fever seized me in the city 
of Winchester, where I lay for twelve months and one week, 
night and day, without hope of recovery. At the appointed 
time, therefore, I could not fulfil my promise of visiting him, 
and he sent messengers to hasten my journey, and to inquire 
the cause of my delay. As I was unable to ride to him, I 
sent a second messenger to tell him the cause of my delay, 
and assure him that, if I recovered from my infirmity, I 
would fulfil what I had promised. My complaint left me, 
and by the advice and consent of all my friends, for the 
benefit of that holy place, and of all who dwelt therein, 

* East Dene [or Dean] and West Dene are two villages near Chiches- 
ter. There are also other villages of the same name near East Bourne. 

f This oppression alludes to the tonsure, which was undergone by those 
who became clerks. For a description of the ecclesiastical tonsure see 
ifede's Eccles. Hist. p. SO. 

72 asses' s life of Alfred. [a.d.884 

I did as I had promised to the king, and devoted myself 
t-o his service, on the condition that I should remain with 
him six months in every year, either continuously, if I 
could spend six months with him at once, or alternately, 
three months in Britain and three in Saxony.* For my 
friends hoped that they should sustain less tribulation and 
harm from king Hemeid,f who often plundered that monastery 
and the parish of St. Deguus,J and sometimes expelled the 
prelates, as they expelled archbishop Novis,§ my relation, 
and myself ; if in any manner I could secure the notice and 
friendship of the king. 

At that time, and long before, all the countries on the right 
hand side of Britain belonged to king Alfred and still be- 
long to him. For instance, king Hemeid, with all the 
inhabitants of the region of Demetia, compelled by the vio- 
lence of the six sons of Rotri, had submitted to the dominion 
of the king. Howel also, son of Ris, king of Gleguising, 
and Brocmail and Fernmail, sons of Mouric, kings of Gwent, 
compelled by the violence and tyranny of earl Ethered and 
of the Mercians, of their own accord sought king Alfred, 
that they might enjoy his government and protection from 
him against their enemies. Helised, also, son of Tendyr, 
king of Brecon, compelled by the force of Jhe same sons of 
Rotri, of his own accord sought the government of the afore- 
said king ; and Anarawd, son of Rotri, with his brother, at 
length abandoning the friendship of the Northumbrians, 
from which he received no good but harm, came into king 
Alfred's presence and eagerly sought his friendship. The 
King received him honourably, received him as his son by 
confirmation from the bishop's hand, and presented him with 
many gifts. Thus he became subject to the king with all 
his people, on the same condition, that he should be obedient 
to the king's will in all respects, in the same way as Ethered 
with the Mercians. 

Nor was it in vain that all these princes gained the 

* The original Latin continues, " Et ilia adjuvaretur per rudimenta 
Sancti Degui in omni causa, tamen pro viribus," which I do not under- 
stand, and therefore cannot translate. 

+ A petty prince of South Wales. 

X Or St. Dewi. Probably by the parish of St Deguus is meant the 
diocese of St. David's. Hence it is said, that Alfred gave to Aster th« 
<rhole parish (omnis parochia) of Exeter. 

| Archbishop of St. David's. 

••B.M&} Alfred's gifts id asser. 73 

friendship of the king. For those who desired to augment 
their worldly power, obtained power; those who desired 
money, gained money; and in like way, those who desired 
his friendship, or both money and friendship, succeeded in 
getting what they wanted. But all of them gained his love 
and guardianship and defence from every quarter, even as the 
king with his men could protect himself. 

When therefore I had come into his presence at the royal 
▼ill, called Leonaford, I was honourably received by him, and 
remained that time with him at his court eight months ; during 
which I read to him whatever books he liked, and such as he 
had at hand ; for this is his most usual custom, both night 
and day, amid his many other occupations of mind and body, 
either himself to read books, or to listen whilst others read 
them. And when I frequently asked his leave to depart, 
and could in no way obtain it, at length when I had made 
up my mind by all means to demand it, he called me to 
him at twilight, on Christmas eve, and gave me two letters, 
in which was a long list of all the things which were in 
two monasteries, called in Saxon, Ambresbury* and Banwelljf 
and on that same day he delivered to me those two mo- 
nasteries with all the things that were in them, and a silken 
pall of great value, and a load for a strong man, of incense, 
adding these words, that he did not give me these trifling 
presents, because he was unwilling hereafter to give me 
greater ; for in the course of time he unexpectedly gave me 
Exeter, with all the diocese which belonged to him in SaxonyJ 
and in Cornwall, besides gifts every day, without number, in 
every kind of worldly wealth, which it would be too long to 
enumerate here, lest they should make my reader tired. 
But let no one suppose that I have mentioned these pre- 
sents in this place for the sake of glory or flattery, or to 
obtain greater honour. I call God to witness, that I have 
not done so ; but that I might certify to those who are igno- 
rant, jhow profuse he is in giving. He then at once gave 
me [permission to ride to those two rich monasteries and 
afterwards to return to my own country. 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation, 886, which was the 

thirty-eighth since the birth of Alfred, the army so often 

befox*ementioned again fled the country, and went into the 

country of the Western Franks, directing their ships to the 

AnieebuTY, in Wilts. < In Somersetghire. Z W«n«. 

74 asser's life of alfked. [x^.m. 

river called the Seine, and sailed up it as far as the city of 
Paris, and there they wintered and measured out their camp 
They besieged that city a whole year, as far as the bridge, 
that they might prevent the inhabitants from making use of 
it ; for the city is situated on a small island in the middle 
of the river; but by the merciful favour of God, and the 
brave defence of citizens, the army could not force their way 
inside the walls. 

' In the same year, Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, aftei 
the burning of cities and the slaying of the people, honour- 
ably rebuilt the city of London, and made it again habitable. 
He gave it into the custody of his son-in-law, Ethered, earl 
of Mercia, to which king all the Angles and Saxons, who 
before had been dispersed everywhere, or were in captivity 
with the pagans, voluntarily turned and submitted themselves 
to his dominion. 

* [In the same year there arose a foul and deadly discord 
at Oxford, between Grimbald, with those learned men whcm 
he had brought with him, and the old scholars whom he had 
found there, who, on his arrival, refused altogether to em 
brace the laws, modes, and forms of praelection instituted by 
the same Grimbald. During three years there had been no 
great dissension between them, but there was a secret enmity 
which afterwards broke out with great atrocity, clearer than 
the light itself. To appease this quarrel, that invincible king 
Alfred, having been informed of the strife by a messenger 
from Grimbald, went to Oxford to put an end to\ the contro- 
versy, and endured much trouble in hearing th& arguments 
and complaints which were brought forwards on b]pth sides. 
The substance of the dispute was this : the old scholars con- 
tended, that literature had flourished at Oxford before the 
coming of Grimbald, although the number of schoVrs was. 
smaller than in ancient time, because several had beeiHdri^er* 
away by the cruelty and tyranny of the pagans. Thfcy also 
proved and showed, by the undoubted testimony of «icient 
annals, that the orders and institutions of that placf Had 
been sanctioned by certain pious and learned men, ps for 
instance by Saint Gildas, Melkinus, Nennius, Kentigerk, and 
others, who had all grown old there in literature, and hjftppily 

♦ The whole of this paragraph concerning Oxford is thought to Vbe ar. 
interpolation, because it is not known to have existed in more than on* 
MS. copy. I 

AAI87. disputes at oxfokd. 75 

admSnis'tered everything there in peace and concord; and 
also, that Saint Germanus had come to Oxford, and stopped 
there half a year, at the time when he went through Britain 
to preacii against the Pelagian heresy ; he wonderfully ap- 
proved of the customs and institutions above-mentioned. 
The king, with unheard-of humility, listened to both sides care- 
fully, and exhorted them again and again with pious and 
wholesome admonitions to cherish mutual love and concord. 
He therefore left them with this decision, that each party 
should follow their own counsel, and preserve their own 
institutions. Grimbald, displeased at this, immediately de- 
parted to the monastery at Winchester,* which had been 
recently founded by king Alfred, and ordered a tomb to be 
' carried to Winchester, in which he proposed, after this life, 
fhat his bones should be laid in the vault which had been 
made under the chancel of St. Peter's church in Oxford; 
which church the same Grimbald had built from its foun- 
dations, of stone polished with great care.] 

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 887, which was the 
thirty-ninth of king Alfred's life, the above mentioned army 
of the pagans, leaving the city of Paris uninjured, because 
they could not succeed against it, sailed up the river Seine 
inder the bridge, until they reached the mouth of the river 
Materne [Marne] ; where they left the Seine* and, following 
for a long time the course of the Marne, at length, but not 
without much labour, they arrived at a place called Chezy, a 
f dyal vill, where they wintered one year. In the following 
year they entered the mouth of the river Ionna [Yonne], not 
without doing much damage to the country, and there re- 
maine one year. 

In the same year CharleB, king of the Franks, went the 
way of all flesh ; but Arnulf, his brother s son, six weeks- 
before he died, had expelled him from his kingdom. After 
his death five kings were appointed, and the kingdom was- 
split into five parts ; but the principal rank in the kingdom 
justly and deservedly devolved on Arnulf, save only that he 
committed an unworthy offence against his uncle. The other 
four kings promised fidelity and obedience to Arnulf, as was* 
proper ; for none of these four kings was hereditary on his 
father's side in his share of the kingdom, as was Arnulf: 
therefore, though the five kings were appointed immediately 
• Hyde Abbey. 


on the death of Charles, yet the empire remained in the 
hands of Arnulf. 

Such, then, was the division of the kingdom ; Arnulf re- 
ceived the countries on the east of the river Rhine ; Roduli 
the inner parts of the kingdom ; Oda the western part ; 
Beorngar and Guido, Lombardy, and those countries which 
are in that part of the mountains ; but they did not keep 
these large dominions in peace, for they twice fought a 
pitched battle, and often mutually ravaged their kingdoms, 
and drove each other out of their dominions. 

In the same year in which that [pagan] army left Paris 
and went to Chezy, Ethelhelm, earl of Wiltshire, carried to 
Rome the alms of king Alfred and of the Saxons. 

In the same year also Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, 
60 often before mentioned, by divine inspiration, began, on 
one and the same day, to read and to interpret ; but that I 
may explain this more fully to those who are ignorant, I will 
relate the cause of this long delay in beginning. 

On a certain day we were both of us sitting in the king's 
chamber, talking on all kinds of subjects, as usual, and it 
happened that I read to him a quotation out of a certain 
book. He heard it attentively with both his ears, and ad- 
dressed me with a thoughtful mind, showing me at the same 
moment a book which he carried in his bosom, wherein the 
daily courses and psalms, and prayers which he had read in 
his youth, were written, and he commanded me to write the 
same quotation in that book. Hearing this, and perceiving 
his ingenuous benevolence, and devout desire of studying 
the words of divine wisdom, I gave, though in secret, bound- 
less thanks to Almighty God, who had implanted such a love 
of wisdom in the king's heart. But I could not find any 
empty space in that book wherein to write the quotation, for 
it was already full of various matters ; wherefore I made a 
little delay, principally that I might stir up the bright intel- 
lect of the king to a higher acquaintance with the divine tes- 
timonies. Upon his urging me to make haste and write it 
quickly, I said to him, " Are you willing that I should write 
that quotation on some leaf apart ? For it is not certair. 
whether we shall not find one or more other such extracts 
which will please you ; and if that should so happen, we 
shall be glad that we have kept them apart." " Your plan 
is good/' said he, and I gladly made haste to get ready a 


sheet, in the beginning of which I wrote what he bade me ; 
and on that same day, I wrote therein, as I had anticipated, x 
no less than three other quotations which pleased him ; and | 
from that time we daily talked together, and found out other 
quotations which pleased him, so that the sheet became full, 
and deservedly so ; according as it is written, " The just 
man builds upon a moderate foundation, and by degrees 
passes to greater things." Thus, like a most productive bee, 
he flew here and there, asking questions, as he went, until 
he had eagerly and unceasingly collected many various 
flowers of divine Scriptures, with which he thickly stored the 
cells of his mind. 

Now when that first quotation was copied, he was eager at 
once to read, and to interpret in Saxon, and then to teach 
others ; even as we read of that happy robber, who recog- 
nized his Lord, aye, the Lord of all men, as he was hanging 
on the blessed cross, and, saluting him with his bodily eyes 
only, because elsewhere he was all pierced with nails, cried, 
" Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom I" 
for it was only at the end of his life that he began to learn 
the rudiments of the Christian faith. But the king, inspired 
by God, began to study the rudiments of divine Scripture on 
the sacred solemnity of St. Martin [Nov. 11], and he con- ^ 
tinued to learntiie flowers collected by certain masters, and 
to reduce them into the form of one book, as he was then 
able, although mixed one with another, until it became almost 
as large as a psalter. This book he called his Enchiridion 
or Manual, because he carefully kept it at hand day and 
night, and found, as he told me, no small consolation therein. 

But as has already been written by a certain wise man, 

" Of watchful minds are the} whose pious care 
It is to govern well," 

so must I be watchful, in that I just now drew a kind of com- 
parison or similarity, though in dissimilar manner, between that 
happy robber and the king ; for the cross is hateful to every 
one, wherever there is suffering. But what can he do, if he 
cannot save himself or escape thence ? or by what art can he 
remain there and improve his cause ? He must, therefore, 
whether he will or no, endure with pain and sorrow that 
which he is suffering. 
Now the king was pierced with many of tribulation, 


though placed in the royal seat ; for from the twentieth year 
of his age to the present year, which is his fortieth,* he has 
been constantly afflicted with most severe attacks of an un- 
known complaint, so that he has not a moment's ease either 
from suffering the pain which it causes, or from the gloom 
which is thrown over him by the apprehension of its coming. 
Moreover, the constant invasions of foreign nations, by which 
he was continually harassed by land and sea, without any 
interval of quiet, were a just cause of disquiet. What 
shall I say of his repeated expeditions against the pagans, 
his wars, and incessant occupations of government ? Of the 
daily embassies sent to him by foreign nations, from the 
Tyrrhenian sea to the farthest end of Ireland?! For we 
have seen and read letters, accompanied with presents, which 
were sent to him by Abel the patriarch of Jerusalem. What 
shall I say of the cities and towns which he restored, and 
of others which he built, where none had been before ? of 
the royal halls and chambers, wonderfully erected by his 
command, with stone and wood ? of the royal vills constructed 
of stone* removed from their old site, and handsomely rebuilt 
by the king's command in more fitting places ? Besides the 
disease above mentioned, he was disturbed by the quarrels of 
his friends, who would voluntarily endure little or no toil, 
though it was for the common necessity of the kingdom ; 
but he alone, sustained by the divine aid, like a skilful 
pilot, strove to steer his ship, laden with much wealth, into 
the safe and much desired harbour of his country, though 
almost all his crew were tired, and suffered them not to faint 
or hesitate, though sailing amid the manifold waves < and 
-eddies of this present life. 

For all his bishops, earls, nobles, favourite ministers, and 
prefects, who, next to Qod and the king, had the whole go- 
Ternment of the kingdom, as is fitting, continually received 
from him instruction, respect, exhortation, and command ; 
nay, at last, when they were disobedient, and his long patience 
was exhausted, he would reprove them severely, and censure 
- at pleasure their vulgar folly and obstinacy ; and in this way 
he directed their attention to the common interests of the 
kingdom. But, owing to the sluggishness of the people, 

* This must consequently have been written in a.d. 888. 
f Wise conjectures that we ought to read Hiberiae, Spain^ and lot 
Hibernie, Ireland, in this passage* 


these admonitions of the king were either not fulfilled, or 
were begun late at the moment of necessity, and so ended 
less to the advantage of those who put them in execution ; 
for I will say nothing of the castles which he ordered to be 
built, but which, being begun late, were never finished, because 
the hostile troops broke in upon them by land and sea, and, 
as often happened, the thwarters of the royal ordinances re- 
pented when it was too late, and blushed at their non-perform- 
ance of his commands. I speak of repentance when it is too 
late, on the testimony of Scripture, whereby numberless 
persons have had cause for too much sorrow when many in- 
sidious evils have been wrought. But though by thase 
means, sad to say, they may be bitterly afflicted and roused 
to sorrow by the loss of fathers, wives, children, ministers, 
servant-men, servant-maids, and furniture and household 
stuff, what is the use of hateful repentance when their kins- 
men are dead, and they cannot aid them, or redeem those 
flrho are captive from captivity ? for they are not able even to 
assist those who have escaped, as they have not wherewith 
to sustain even their own lives. They repented, therefore,, 
when it was too late, and grieved at their incautious neglect 
of the king's commands, and they praised the royal wisdom 
with one voice, and tried with all their power to fulfil what 
they had before refused, namely, concerning the erectior of 
nasties, and other things generally useful to the whole 

Of his fixed purpose of holy meditation, which, in the. 
midst of prosperity and adversity he never neglected, I cannot, 
with advantage now omit to speak. For, whereas he often 
thought of the necessities, of his soul, among the other good, 
deeds to which his thoughts were night and day turned, he 
ordered that two monasteries should be built, one for monks 
at Athelney, which is a place surrounded by impassable 
marshes and rivers, where no one can enter but by boats, or, 
by a bridge laboriously constructed- between two other 
heights ; at the western end of which bridge was erected a. 
strong tower, of beautiful work, by command of the aforesaid, 
king ; and in this monastery he collected monks of all kinds,, 
from every quarter, and placed them therein. 

For at first, because he had no one of his own nation, 
noble and free by birth, who was willing to enter the mo- 
nastic life, except children, who could neither choose good 

60 asseb's life of alfbed. u.»m 

nor avoid evil in consequence of their tender years, became 
for many previous years the love of a monastic life had utterly 
decayed from that nation as well as from many other nations, 
though many monasteries still remain in that country ; yet, as 
no one directed the rule of that kind of life in a regular way, 
for what reason I cannot say, either from the invasions of 
foreigners which took place so frequently both by sea and 
land, or because that people abounded in riches of every 
kind, and so looked with contempt on the monastic life. It 
was for this reason that king Alfred sought to gather monks 
of different kinds to place in the same monastery. 

First he placed there as abbat, John* the priest and monk, 
an old Saxon by birth, then certain priests and deacons from 
beyond the sea ; of whom, finding that he had not as large a 
number as he wished, he procured as many as possible of the 
same Gallic race, some of whom, being children, he ordered 
to be taught in the same monastery, and at a later period to 
be admitted to the monastic habit. I have myself seen a 
young lad of pagan birth who was educated in that monastery, 
and by no means the hindmost of them all. 

There was also a deed done once in that monastery, which 
I would utterly consign to oblivion, although it is an un- 
worthy deed ; for throughout the whole of Scripture the base 
deeds of the wicked are interspersed among the blessed deeds 
of the just, as tares and darnel are sown among the wheat : 
good deeds are recorded that they may be praised and imi- 
tated, and that their imitators may be held in all honour ; 
wicked deeds are there related, that they may be censured 
and avoided, and their imitators be reproved with all odium, 
contempt, and vengeance. 

For once upon a time, a certain priest and a deacon, Gauls 
"by birth, and two of the aforesaid monks, by the insti- 
gation of the devil, and excited by some secret jealousy, 
became so embittered in secret against their abbat, the above 
mentioned John, that, like Jews, they circumvented and be- 
trayed their master. For whereas he had two servants, whom 
he had hired out of Gaul, they taught these such wicked 
practices, that in the night, when all men were enjoying the 
sweet tranquillity of sleep, they should make their way into 
the church armed, and shutting it behind them as usual, hide 
themselves therein, and wait for the moment when the abbat 
* Not the celebrated John. Scot us Eregina. 

A.P.86&] JOHN THE ABBAT. 81 

should enter the church alone. At length, when he should 
come alone to pray, and, bending his knees, bow before the 
holy altar, the men should rush on him with hostility, and 
try to slay him on the spot. They then should drag his 
lifeless body out of the church, and throw it down before the 
house of a certain harlot, as if he had been slain whilst on a 
visit to. her. This was their machination, adding crime to 
crime, as it is said, " The last error shall be worse than the 

But the divine mercy, which always delights to aid the 
innocent, frustrated in great part the wicked design of the 
wicked men, so that it should not turn out in every respect 
as they had proposed. 

When, therefore, the whole of the evil counsel had been 
explained by those wicked teachers to their wicked agents, 
and the night which had been fixed on as most fit was come, 
the two armed ruffians were placed, with a promise of im- 
punity, to await in the church for the arrival of the abbat. 
In the middle of the night John, as usual, entered the 
church to pray, without any one's knowing of it, and knelt 
before the altar. The two ruffians rushed upon him with 
drawn swords, and dealt him some severe wounds. But he, 
being a man of a brave mind, and, as we have heard say, not 
unacquainted with the art of self-defence, if he had not been 
a follower of a better calling, no sooner heard the sound of 
the robbers, before he saw them, than he rose up against 
them before he was wounded, and, shouting as loud as he 
could, struggled against them, crying out that they were 
devils and not men ; for he himself knew no better, as he 
thought that no men would dare to attempt such a deed. 
He was, however, wounded before any of his people could 
come to his help. His attendants, roused by the noise, were 
frightened when they heard the word devils, and both those 
two who, like Jews, sought to betray their master, and the 
others who knew nothing of the matter, rushed together to 
the doors of the church; but before they got there those 
ruffians escaped, leaving the abbat half dead. The monks 
raised the old man, in a fainting condition, and carried him 
home with tears and lamei tations ; nor did those two de- 
ceitful monks shed tears less than the innocent But God's 
mercy did not allow so bold a deed to pass unpunished ; the 
ruffians who perpetrated it, and all who urged them to it* 

62 ASSEB's I.XFE 07 ALFRED. A.D.88& 

were taken and put in prison, where, by various tortures, 
they came to a disgraceful end. Let us now return to our 

Another monastery, also, was, built by the same king as a 
residence for nuns, near the eastern gate of Shaftesbury ; and 
his own daughter, Ethelgiva, was placed in it as abbess. 
With her many other noble ladies bound by the rules of the 
monastic life, dwell in that monastery. These two edifices 
were enriched by the king with much land, as well as perso- 
nal property. 

These things being thus disposed of, the king began, as 
was his practice, to consider within himself, what more he 
could do, to augment and show forth his piety; what he had 
begun wisely, and thoughtfully conceived for the public 
benefit, was adhered to with equally beneficial result ; for 
he had heard it out of the book of the law, that the 
Lord had promised to restore to him tenfold ; and he- 
knew that the Lord had kept his promise, and had actually 
restored to him tenfold. Encouraged by this example, and: 
wishing to exceed the practices of his predecessors, he vowed 
humbly and faithfully to devote to God half his services, 
both day and night, and also half of all his wealth, such as 
lawfully and justly came annually into his possession; and 
this vow, as far as human discretion can perceive and keep, 
he skilfully and wisely endeavoured to fulfil. But, that he 
might, with his usual caution, avoid that which scripture 
warns us against : " If you offer aright, but do not divide 
aright, you sin," he considered how he might divide aright 
that which he had vowed to God ; and as Solomon had said,. 
" The heart of the king is in the hand of God," that is, his 
counsel he ordered with wise policy, which could come only 
from above, that his officers should first divide into two parts 
the revenues of every year. 

When this division was made, he assigned the first part to 
worldly uses, and ordered that one-third of it should be paid 
to his soldiers, and also to his ministers, the nobles who 
dwelt at court where they discharged divers duties ; for so 
the king's family was arranged at all times into three classes. 
The king's attendants were most wisely distributed into three 
companies, so that the first company should be on duty at 
court for one month, night and day, at the end of which they 
returned to their homes, and were relieved by the second 


company. At the end of the second month, in the same 
way, the third company relieved the second, who returned to 
their homes, where they spent two months, until their ser- 
vices were again wanted. The third company also gave place 
to the first in the same way, and also spent two months at 
home. Thus was the threefold division of the companies ar- 
ranged at all times in the royal household. 

To these therefore was paid the first of the three portions 
aforesaid, to each according to their respective dignities and 
peculiar services ; the second to the operatives, whom he had 
collected from every nation, and had about him in large num- 
bers, men skilled in every kind of construction ; the third 
portion was assigned to foreigners who came to him out of 
every nation far and near, whether they asked money of him 
or not, he cheerfully gave to each with wonderful munificence 
according to their respective merits, according to what is 
written : " God loveth a cheerful giver." 

But the second part of all his revenues, which came yearly 
into his possession, and was included in the receipts of the 
exchequer, as we mentioned a little before, he, 'with ready de- 
votion, gave to Qod, ordering his ministers to divide it care- 
fully into four parts, on the condition that the first part should 
be discreetly bestowed on the poor of every nation who came 
to him ; and on this subject he said that, as far as human 
discretion could guarantee, the remark of pope St. Gregory 
should be followed : " Give not much to whom you should 
give little, nor little to whom much, nor something to whom 
nothing, nor nothing to whom something." The second of 
the four portions was given to the two monasteries which he 
had built, and to those who therein had dedicated themselves 
to God* 8 service, as we have mentioned above. The third 
portion was assigned to the school, which he had studiously 
collected together, consisting of many of the nobility of his 
own nation. The fourth portion was for the use of all 
the neighbouring monasteries in all Saxony and Mercia, and 
also during some years, in turn, to the churches and servants 
of God dwelling in Britain [Wales], Cornwall, Gaul, Ar- 
morica, Northumbria, and sometimes also in Ireland ; accord- 
ing to his means, he either distributed to them beforehand, or 
afterwards, if life and success should not fail him. 

When the king had arranged these matters, he remem- 
bered that sentence of divine scripture, " Whosoever will 



give alms, ought to begin from himself," and prudently be- 
gan to reflect what he could offer to God from the service of 
his body and mind ; for he proposed to consecrate to God no 
less out of this than he had done of things external to him- 
self. Moreover, he promised, as far as his infirmity and his 
means would allow, to give up to God the half of his ser- 
vices, bodily and mental, by night and by day, voluntarily, 
and with all his might ; but, inasmuch as he could not 
equally distinguish the lengths of the hours by night, on ac- 
count of the darkness, and ofttimes of the day, on account of 
the storms and clouds, he began to consider, by what means 
and without any difficulty, relying on the mercy of God, he 
might discharge the promised tenor of his vow until his 

After long reflection on these things, he at length, by a 
useful and shrewd invention, commanded his chaplains to 
supply wax in a sufficient quantity, and he caused it to be 
weighed in such a manner that when there was so much of 
it in the scales, as would equal the weight of seventy-two 
pence,* he caused the chaplains to make six candles thereof, 
each of equal length, so that each candle might have twelve 
divisions f marked longitudinally upon it. By this plan, 
therefore, those six candles burned for twenty-four hours, a 
night and day, without fail, before the sacred relics of many 
of God's elect, which always accompanied him wherever he 
went ; but sometimes when they would not continue burning 
a whole day and night, till the same hour that they were 
lighted the preceding evening, from the violence of the wind, 
which blew day and night without intermission through the 
doors and windows of the churches, the fissures of the divi- 
sions, the plankings, or the wall, or the thin canvass of the 
tents, they then unavoidably burned out and finished their 
course before the appointed time ; the king therefore consi- 
dered by what means he might shut out the wind, and so by 
a useful and cunning invention, he ordered a lantern to be 
beautifully constructed of wood and white ox-horn, which, 
when skilfully planed till it is thin, is no less transparent 
than a vessel of glass. This lantern, therefore, was wonder- 
fully made of wood and horn, as we before said, and by 
night a candle was put into it, which shone as brightly with- 
out as within, and was not extinguished by the wind ; for th» 
* Denarii f Unciae pollicis. 


opening of the lantern was also closed up, according to the 
king's command, hy a door made of horn. 

By this contrivance, then, six candles, lighted in succession, 
lasted four and twenty hours, neither more nor less, and, 
when these were extinguished, others were lighted. 

When all these things were properly arranged, the king, 
eager to give up to God the half of his daily service, as he 
had vowed, and more also, if his ability on the one hand, 
and his malady on the other, would allow him, showed 
himself a minute investigator of the truth in all his judg- 
ments, and this especially for the sake of the poor, to whose 
interest, day and night, among other duties of this life, he 
ever was wonderfully attentive. For in the whole kingdom 
the poor, besides him, had few or no protectors ; for all the 
powerful and noble of that country had turned their thoughts 
rather to secular than to heavenly things: each was more 
bent on secular matters, to his own profit, than on the public 

He strove also, in his own judgments, for the benefit of 
both the noble and the ignoble, who often perversely quar- 
relled at the meetings of his earls and officers, so that 
hardly one of them admitted the justice of what had been 
decided by the earls and prefects, and in consequence of 
this pertinacious and obstinate dissension, all desired to 
have the judgment of the king, and both sides sought at 
once to gratify their desire. But if any one was conscious 
of injustice on his side in the suit, though by law and 
agreement he was compelled, however reluctant, to go before 
the king, yet with his own good will he never would consent 
to go. For he knew, that in the king's presence no part 
of his wrong would be hidden ; and no wonder, for ihe king 
was a most acute investigator in passing sentence, as he was 
in all other things. He inquired into almost all the judgments 
which were given in his own absence, throughout all his 
dominion, whether they were just or unjust. If he perceived 
there was iniquity in those judgments, he summoned the 
judges, either through his own agency, or through others of 
his faithful servants, and asked them mildly, why they had 
judged so unjustly ; whether through ignorance or malevo- 
lence ; i. e., whether for the love or fear of any one, or hatred of 
others ; or also for the desire of money. At length, if the 
judges acknowledged they had given judgment because they 

S6 asses' s life of alfbed. :a.i>. sm. 

knew no better, he discreetly and moderately reproved their 
inexperience and folly in such terms as these : " I wonder 
truly at your insolence, that, whereas by God's favour and 
mine, you have occupied the rank and office of the wise, 
you have neglected the studies and labours of the wise. 
Either, therefore, at once give up the discharge of the tem- 
poral duties which you hold, or endeavour more zealously 
to study the lessons of wisdom. Such are my commands." 
At these words the earls and prefects would tremble 
and endeavour to turn all their thoughts to the study of 
justice, so that, wonderful to say,, almost all his earls, pre- 
fects, and officers, though unlearned from their cradles, were 
sedulously bent upon acquiring learning, choosing rather la- 
boriously to acquire the knowledge of a new discipline than 
to resign their functions ; but if any one of them from old 
age or slowness of talent was unable to make progress in 
liberal studies, he commanded his son, if he had one, or 
one of his kinsmen, or, if there was no other person to be 
had, his own freedman or servant, whom he had some time 
before advanced to the office of reading, to recite Saxon 
books before him night and day, whenever he had any lei- 
sure, and they lamented with deep sighs, in their inmost 
hearts, that in their youth they had never attended to such 
studies ; and they blessed the young men of our days, who 
happily could be instructed in the liberal arts, whilst they 
execrated their own lot, that they had not learned these 
things in their youth, and now, when they are old, though 
wishing to learn them, they are unable. But this skill of 
young and old in acquiring letters, we have explained to 
the knowledge of the aforesaid king.* 

* Some of the MSS. record, in a note or appendix written by a later 
hand, that king Alfred died on the 26th of October, a.d. 900, in the thir- 
tieth of his reign. " The different dates assigned to the death of Alfred," 
says Sir Francis Palgrave, " afford a singular proof , of the uncertainty aris- 
ing from various modes of computation. The Saxon Chronicle and Flo- 
rence of Worcester agree in placing the event in 901. The first 'six nights 
before All Saints;' the last, with more precision, ' Indictione quarta, et 
Feria quarta, 5 Cal. Nov.* Simon of Durham, in 889, and the Saxon 
Chronicle, in anotner passage, in 900. The concurrents of Florence of 
Worcester seem to afford the greatest certainty, and the date of 901 has 
therefore been preferred." 




Chap. I. — The epistle dedicatory to Robert earl of Gloucester* 

Whilst occupied on many and various studies, I happened 
to light upon the History of the Kings of Britain, and 
wondered that in the account which Gildas and Bede, in 
their elegant treatises, had given of them, I found nothing 
said of those kings who lived here before the Incarnation of 
Christ, nor of Arthur, and many others who succeeded after 
the Incarnation ; though their actions both deserved immortal 
fame, and were also celebrated by many people in a pleasant 
manner and by heart, as if they had been written. Whilst 
I was intent upon these and such like thoughts, Walter, 
archdeacon of Oxford, J a man of great eloquence, and 
learned in foreign histories, offered me a very ancient book 
in the British tongue, which, in a continued regular story 
and elegant style, related the actions of them all, from 
Brutus the first king of the Britons, down to Cadwallader 
the son of Cadwailo. At his request, therefore, though I 
had not made fine language my study, by collecting florid 
expressions from other authors, yet contented with my own 
homely style, I undertook the translation of that book into 
Latin. For if I had swelled the pages with rhetorical 

* Robert, earl of Gloucester was the natural son of king Henry I. by 
whose command he swore fealty to the empress Matilda, daughter of that 
monarch. Tq prove his fidelity, he rebelled against king Stephen, and 
mainly contributed to the success of Henry son of the empress, afterward* 

+ Thought to be Walter Mapes the poet, author of several ludicroua 
and satirical compositions. 


flourishes, 1 must have tired my readers, by employing their 
attention more upon my words than upon the history. To 
you, therefore, Robert earl of Gloucester, this work humbly 
sues for the favour of being so corrected by your advice, that 
it may not be thought to be the poor offspring of Geoffrey of 
Monmouth, but when polished by your refined wit and 
judgment, the production of him who had Henry the glorious 
king of England for his father, and whom we see an 
Accomplished scholar and philosopher, as well as a brave 
soldier and expert commander ; so that Britain with joy 
acknowledges, that in you she possesses another Henry, 

Chap. II. — Toe first inhabitants of Britain, 

Britain, the best of islands, is situated in the Western 
Ocean, between France and Ireland, being eight hundred 
miles long, and two hundred broad. It produces every 
thing that is useful to man, with a plenty that never fails. 
It abounds with all kinds of metal, and has plains of large 
-extent, and hills fit for the finest tillage, the richness of 
whose soil affords variety of fruits in the ; .r j roper seasons. 
It has also forests well stored with all kinds of wild beasts ; 
in its lawns cattle find good change of pasture, and bees 
variety of flowers for honey. Under its lofty mountains lie 
.green meadows pleasantly situated, in which the gentle 
f murmurs of crystal springs gliding along clear channels, 
\ give those that pass an agreeable invitation to lie down on 
their banks and slumber. It is likewise well watered with 
lakes and rivers abounding with fish ; and besides the 
narrow sea which is on the Southern coast towards France, 
there are three noble rivers, stretching out like three arms, 
namely, the Thames, the Severn, and the Humber ; by 
which foreign commodities from all countries are brought 
into it. It was formerly adorned with eight and twenty 
cities,* of which some are in ruins and desolate, others 
are still standing, beautified with lofty church-towers, 
wherein religious worship is performed according to the 
Christian institution. It is lastly inhabited by five different 
nations, the Britons, Eomans, Saxons, Picts, and Scats ; 

* The names of hirty -three cities will be found in Nennius's History of 
the Britons, § 7. 


whereof the Britons before the rest did formerly possess 
the whole island from sea to sea, till divine vengeance, 
punishing them for their pride, made them give way to 
the Ficts and Saxons. But in what manner, and from 
whence, they first arrived here, remains now to be related 
in what follows.* 

Chap. III.— Brutus, being banished after the kitting of hie parents^ 
goes into Greece. 

After the Trojan war, -flSneaa, flying with Ascanius from 
the destruction of their city, sailed to Italy. There he was 
honourably received by king Latinus, which raised against 
him the envy of Turnus, king of the Rutuli, who thereupon 
made war against him. Upon their engaging in battle, 
-5£neas got the victory, and having killed Turnus, obtained 
the kingdom of Italy, and with it Lavinia the daughter of 
Latinus. After his death, Ascanius, succeeding in the 
kingdom, built Alba upon the Tiber, and begat a son named 
Sylvius, who, in pursuit of a private amour, took to wife a 
niece of Lavinia. The damsel soon after conceived, and the 
father Ascanius, coming to the knowledge of it, commanded 
his magicians to consult of what sex the child should be. 
When they had satisfied themselves in the matter, they told 
him she would give birth to a boy, who would kill his father 
and mother, and after travelling over many countries in 
banishment, would at last arrive at the highest pitch of 
glory. Nor were they mistaken in their prediction ; for at 
the proper time the woman brought forth a son, and died of 
his birth ; but the child was delivered to a nurse and called 

At length, after fifteen years were expired, the youth 
accompanied his father in hunting, and killed him un- 
designedly by the shot of an arrow. For, as the servants 
were driving up the deer towards them, Brutus, in shooting 
at them, smote his father under the breast. Upon his death, 
he was expelled from Italy, his kinsmen being enraged at 
him for so heinous a deed. Thus banished he went into 
Greece, where he found the posterity of Helenus, son of 

* This brief description of Britain is taken almost word for word from 
the more authentic historians, Bede, Orotius, &c 

92 Geoffrey's bkitjsh histoki\ [mmu 

Priamus, kept in slavery by Pandrasus, king of the Greeks. 
For, after the destruction of Troy, Pyrrhus, the son of 
Achilles, had brought hither in chains Helenus and many 
others ; and to revenge on them the death of his father, had 
given command that they should be held in captivity. 
Brutus, finding they were by descent his old countrymen, 
took up his abode among them, and began to distinguish 
himself by his conduct and bravery in war, so as to gain the 
affection of kings and commanders, and above all the young 
men of the country. For he was esteemed a person of 
great capacity both in council and war, and signalized his 
generosity to his soldiers, by bestowing among them all the 
money and spoil he got. His fame, therefore, spreading over 
all countries, the Trojans from all parts began to flock to 
him, desiring under his command to be freed from subjection 
to the Greeks ; which they assured him might easily be done, 
considering how much their number was now increased in 
the country, being seven thousand strong, besides women 
and children. There was likewise then in Greece a noble 
youth named Assaracus, a favourer of their cause. For he 
was descended on his mother's side from the Trojans, and 
placed great confidence in them, that he might be able by 
their assistance to oppose the designs of the Greeks. For 
his brother had a quarrel with him for attempting to deprive 
him of three castles which his father had given him at his 
death, on account of his being only the son of a concubine ; 
but as the brother was a Greek, both by his father's and 
mother's side, he had prevailed with the king and the rest of 
the Greeks to espouse his cause. Brutus, having taken a 
view of the number of his men, and seen how Assaracus'? 
castles lay open to him, complied with their request.* 

Chap. IV. — Brutus's letter to Pandrasus, 

Being, therefore, chosen their commander, he assembled the 
Trojans from all parts, and fortified the towns belonging to 
Assaracus. But he himself, with Assaracus and the whole 

* It is unnecessary to remind the classical reader that the historians of 
Greece and Italy make no mention of Brutus and his adventures. The 
minuteness of detail, so remarkable in the whole story, as related by 
Geoffrey, is an obvious objection to its authenticity. 

ca.fc] brutub's lktteb to pandrasus. 93 

body of men and women that adhered to him, retired to the 
woods and hills, and then sent a letter to the king in these 
words : — 

"Brutus, general of the remainder of the Trojans, to 
Fandrasus, king' of the Greeks, sends greeting. As it was 
beneath the dignity of a nation descended from the illus- 
trious race of Dardanus, to be treated in your kingdom 
otherwise than the nobility of their birth required, they 
have betaken themselves to the protection of the woods. 
For they have preferred living after the manner of wild 
beasts, upon flesh and herbs, with the enjoyment of liberty, 
to continuing longer in the greatest luxury under the yoke 
of slavery. If this gives your majesty any offence, impute 
it not to them, but pardon it ; since it is the common senti- 
ment of every captive, to be desirous of regaining his former 
dignity. Let pity therefore move you to bestow on them 
freely their lost liberty, and permit them to inhabit the 
thickest of the woods, to which they have retired to avoid 
slavery. But if you deny them this favour, then by your 
permission and assistance let them depart into some foreign 

Chap. V. — Brutus falling upon the forces of Pandrasus by surprise, 
routs them, and takes Antigonus, the brother of Pandrasus, with 
Anacletus, prisoner, 

Pandrasus, perceiving the purport of the letter, was be- 
yond measure surprised at the boldness of such a message 
from those whom he had kept in slavery ; and having called 
a council of his nobles, he determined to raise an army in 
order to pursue them. But while he was upon his march to 
the deserts, where he thought they were, and to the town of 
Sparatinum, Brutus made a sally with three thousand men, 
and fell upon him unawares. For having intelligence of his 
coming, he had got into the town the night before, with a 
design to break forth upon them unexpectedly, while un- 
ar~ied and marching without order. The sally being made, 
'_*e Trojans briskly attack them, and endeavour to make a 
great slaughter. The Greeks, astonished, immediately give 
way on all sides, and with the king at their head, hasten to 
pass the river Akalon,* which runs near the place ; but in 
• The Achelous, or perhaps the Acheron. 

94 Geoffrey's British history. faoom. 

passing are in great danger from the rapidity of the stream. 
Brutus galls them in their flight, and kills some of them in 
the stream, and some upon the hanks; and running to and 
fro, rejoices to see them in hoth places exposed to ruin. 
But Antigonus, the brother of Pandrasus, grieved at this 
sight, rallied his scattered troops, and made a quick return 
upon the furious Trojans ; for he rather chose to die making 
a brave resistance, than to be drowned in a muddy pool in a 
shameful flight. Thus attended with a close body of men 
he encouraged them to stand their ground, and employed 
his whole force against the enemy with great vigour, but to 
little or no purpose ; for the Trojans had arms, but the others 
none ; and from this advantage they were more eager in the 
pursuit, and made a miserable slaughter ; nor did they give 
over the assault till they had made nearly a total destruc- 
tion, and taken Antigonus, and Anacletus his companion 

Chap. VI. — The town of Sparatinum besieged by Pandrasus. 

Brutus, after the victory, reinforced the town with six hun- 
dred men, and then retired to the woods, where the Trojan 
people were expecting his protection. In the meantime 
Pandrasus, grieving at his own flight and his brother's 
captivity, endeavoured that night to re-assemble his broken 
forces, and the next morning went with a body of his people 
which he had got together, to besiege the town, into which 
he supposed Brutus had put himself with Antigonus and the 
rest of the prisoners that he had taken. As soon as he was 
arrived at the walls, and had viewed the situation of the 
castle, he divided his army into several bodies, and placed 
them round it in different stations. One party was charged 
not to suffer any of the besieged to go out ; another to turn 
the courses of the rivers ; and a third to beat down the walls 
with battering rams and other engines. In obedience to 
those commands, they laboured with their utmost force to 
distress the besieged; and night coming on, made choice of 
their bravest men to defend their camp and tents from the 
incursions of the enemy, while the rest, who were fatigued 
with labour, refreshed themselves with sleep. 


Chap. VII.— Th$ besieged ask assistance of Brutus. 

But the besieged, standing on the top of the walls, were no 
less vigorous to repel the force of the enemies' engines, and 
assault them with their own, and cast forth darts and fire- 
brands with a unanimous resolution to make a valiant de- 
fence. And when a breach was made through the wall, 
they compelled the enemy to retire, by throwing upon them 
fire and scalding water. But being distressed through 
scarcity of provision and daily labour, they sent an urgent 
message to Brutus, to hasten to their assistance, for they 
were afraid they might be so weakened as to be obliged to 
quit the town. Brutus, though desirous of relieving them,, 
was under great perplexity, as he had not men enough to 
stand a pitched battle, and therefore made use of a strata- 
gem, by which he proposed to enter the enemies' camp by 
night, and having deceived their watch to kill them in their 
sleep. But because he knew this was impracticable without 
the concurrence and assistance of some Greeks, he called to 
him Anacletus, the companion of Antigonus, and with a 
drawn sword in his hand, spake to him after this manner : — 
" Noble youth ! your own and Antigonus's life is now at 
an end, unless you will faithfully perform what I command 
you. This night I design to invade the camp of the Greeks, 
and fall upon them unawares, but am afraid of being hin- 
dered in the attempt if the watch should discover the strata- 
gem. Since it will be necessary, therefore, to have them 
killed first, I desire to make use of you to deceive them, that 
I may have the easier access to the rest. Do you therefore 
manage this affair cunningly. At the second hour of the 
night go to the watch, and with fair speeches tell them that 
you have brought away Antigonus from prison, and that he 
is come to the bottom of the woods, where he. lies hid among 
the shrubs, and cannot get any farther, by reason of the 
fetters with which you shall pretend that he is bound. 
Then you shall conduct them, as if it were to deliver him, 
to the end of the wood, where I will attend with a band of 
men ready to kill them." 

96 Geoffrey's British history. (am* 

Chap. VUL—Anacletus, in fear of death, betrays the army of the Greek* 

Anacletus, seeing the sword threatening him with imme- 
diate death while these wot ds were being "pronounced, was 
so terrified as to promise upon oath, that on condition he 
and Antigonus should have longer life granted them, he 
would execute his command. Accordingly, the agreement 
"being confirmed, at the second hour of the night he directs 
his way towards the Grecian camp, and when he was come 
near to it, the watch, who were then narrowly examining all 
the places where any one could hide, ran out from all parts 
to meet him, and demanded the occasion of his coming, and 
whether it was not to betray the army. He, with a show of 
great joy, made the following answer : — " I come not to be- 
tray my country, but having made my escape from the prison 
of the Trojans, I fly thither to desire you would go with me 
to Antigonus, whom I have delivered from Brutus's chains. 
For being not able to come with me for the weight of his 
fetters, I have a little while ago caused him to lie hid among 
the shrubs at the end of the wood, till I could meet with 
some one whom I might conduct to his assistance." While 
they were in suspense about the truth of this story, there 
came one who knew him, and after he had saluted him, told 
them who he was; so that now, without any hesitation, they 
quickly called their absent companions, and followed him to 
the wood where he had told them Antigonus lay hid. But 
at length, as they were going among the shrubs, Brutus with 
his armed bands springs forth, and falls upon them, while 
under the greatest astonishment, with a most cruel slaughter. 
From thence he marches directly to the siege, and divides 
his men into three bands, assigning to each of them a dif- 
ferent part of the camp, and telling them to advance dis- 
creetly, and without noise; and when entered, not to kill 
any body till he with his company should be possessed of 
the king's tent, and should cause the trumpet to sound for a 

Chap. IX. — The taking of Pandrasus. 

Wiikx he had given them these instructions, they forthwith 
softly entered the camp in silence, and taking their appointed 
stations, awaited thp promised signal, which Brutus ielayed 

c*. 10.] TAKWG OF PANDRASUS. 97 

not to give as soon as lie had got before the tent of Pan- 
drasus, to assault which was the thing he most desired. At 
hearing the signal, they forthwith draw their swords, enter 
in among the men in their sleep, make quick destruction of 
them, and allowing no quarter, in this manner traverse the 
whole camp. The rest, awaked at the groans of the dying, 
and seeing their assailants, were like sheep seized with a 
sudden fear ; for they despaired of life, since they had 
neither time to take arms, nor to escape by flight. They 
run up and down without arms among the armed, whither- 
soever the fury of the assault hurries them, but are on all 
sides cut down by the enemy rushing in. Some that might 
have escaped, were in the eagerness of flight dashed against 
rocks, trees, or shrubs, and increased the misery of their 
death. Others, that had only a shield, or some such cover- 
ing for their defence, in venturing upon the same rocks to 
avoid death, fell down in the hurry and darkness of the 
night, and broke either legs or arms. Others, that escaped 
both these disasters, but did not know whither to fly, were 
drowned in the adjacent rivers ; and scarcely one got away 
without some unhappy accident befalling 1dm. Besides, the 
garrison in the town, upon notice of the coming of their 
fellow soldiers, sallied forth, and redoubled the slaughter. 

Chap. X. — A consultation about what is to be asked of the captive king. 

But Brutus, as I said before, having possessed himself of 
the king's tent, made it his business to keep him a safe pri- 
soner ; for he knew he could more easily attain his ends by 
preserving his life than by killing him ; but the party that 
was with him, allowing no quarter, made an utter destruc- 
tion in that part which they had gained. The night being 
spent in this manner, when the next morning discovered to 
their view so great an overthrow of the enemy, Brutus, in 
transports of joy, gave full liberty to his men to do what 
they pleased with the plunder, and then entered the town 
with the king, to stay there till they had shared it among • 
them ; which done, he again fortified the castle, gave orders v 
for burying the slain, and retired with his forces to the 
woods in great joy for the victory. After the rejoicings ot 
his people on this occasion, their renowned general eum- 



moned the oldest of them and asked their advice, what he 
had best desire of Pandrasus, who, being now in their 
power, would readily grant whatever they would request of 
him, in order to regain his liberty. They, according to 
their different fancies, desired different things ; some urged 
him to request that a certain part of the kingdom might be 
assigned them for their habitation ; others that he would 
demand leave to depart, and to be supplied with necessaries 
for their voyage. After they had been a long time in 
suspense what to do, one of them, named Mempricius, rose 
up, and having made silence, spoke to them thus : — 

" What can be the occasion of your suspense, fathers, in a 
matter which I think so much concerns your safety ? The 
only thing you can request, with any prospect of a firm 
peace and security to yourselves and your posterity, is 
liberty to depart. For if you make no better terms with 
Pandrasus for his life than only to have some part of the 
country assigned you to live among the Greeks, you will 
never enjoy a lasting peace while the brothers, sons, or 
grandsons of those whom you killed yesterday shall continue 
to be your neighbours. So long as the memory of their 
fathers' deaths shall remain, they will be your mortal ene- 
mies, and upon the least trifling provocation will endeavour 
to revenge themselves. Nor will you be sufficiently nume- 
rous to withstand so great a multitude of people. And if 
you shall happen to fall out among yourselves, their number 
will daily increase, yours diminish. I propose, therefore, 
that you request of him his eldest daughter, Ignoge, for a 
wife for our general, and with her, gold, silver, corn, and 
whatever else shall be necessary for our voyage. If we 
obtain this, we may with his leave remove to some other 

Chap. XI. — Pandrasus gives his daughter Ignoge in marriage to Brutus, 
who, after his departure from Greece, falls upon a desert island, where 
he is told by the oracle of Diana what place he is to inhabit. 

When he had ended his speech, in words to this effect, the 
whole assembly acquiesced in his advice, and moved that 
Pandrasus might be brought in among them, and condemned 
to a most cruel death unless he would grant this request. 
He was immediately brought in, and being placed in a chail 


above the rest, and informed of the tortures prepared for 
him unless he would do what was commanded him, he made 
them this answer : — 

" Since my ill fate has delivered me and my brother Anti- 
gonus into your hands, I can do no other than grant you / 
request, lest a refusal may cost us our lives, which are now 
entirely in your power. In my opinion life is preferable to 
all other considerations ; therefore, wonder not that I am 
willing to redeem it at so great a price. But though it in 
against my inclination that I obey your commands, yet il 
seems matter of comfort to me that I am to give my daugh- 
ter to so noble a youth, whose descent from the illustrious 
race of Priamus and Anchises is clear, both from that great- 
ness of mind which appears in him, and the certain accounts 
we have had of it. For who less than he could have re- 
leased from their chains the banished Trojans, when reduced 
under slavery to so many great princes ? Who else could 
have encouraged them to make head against the Greeks ? or 
with so small a body of men vanquished so numerous and 
powerful an army, and taken their king prisoner in the \ 
engagement ? And, therefore, since this noble youth has ' 
gained so much glory by the opposition which he has made 
to me, I give him my daughter Ignoge, and also gold, silver, j 
ships, corn, wine, and oil, and whatever you shall find neces- I 
sary for your voyage. If you shall alter your resolution, 
and think fit to continue among the Greeks, I will grant you 
the third part of my kingdom for your habitation ; if not, 
I will faithfully perform my promise, and for your greater 
security will stay as a hostage among you till I have made 
it good." 

Accordingly he held a council, and directed messengers to 
all the shores of Greece, to get ships together ; which done, 
he delivered them to the Trojans, to the number of three 
hundred and twenty-four, laden with all kinds of provision, 
and married his daughter to Brutus. He made also a pre- 
sent of gold and silver to each man according to his quality. 
When everything was performed the king was set at liberty ; 
and the Trojans, now released from his power, set sail with 
a fair wind. But Ignoge, standing upon the stern of the 
ship, swooned away several times in Brutus's arms, and with 
many sighs and tears lamented the leaving her parents and 

h 2 

100 Geoffrey's British history. 1«ook t 

country, nor ever turned her eyes from the bhor<* while it 
was in sight. Brutus, meanwhile, endeavoured to assuage 
her grief by kind words and embraces intermixed vdth 
kisses, and ceased not from these blandishments til} she 
grew weary of crying and fell asleep. During these and 
other accidents, the winds continued fair for two days and a 
night together, when at length they arrived at a certain 
island called Leogecia, which had been formerly wasted by 
the incursions of pirates, and was then uninhabited. Bru- 
tus, not knowing this, sent three hundred armed men ashore 
to see who inhabited it; but they finding nobody, killed 
several kinds of wild beasts which they met with in the 
groves and woods, and came to a desolate city, in which they 
found a temple of Diana, and in it a statue of that goddess 
which gave answers to those that came to consult her. At 
last, loading themselves with the prey which they had taken 
in hunting, they return to their ships, and give their com- 
panions an account of this country and city. Then they 
advised their leader to go to the city, and after offering 
sacrifices, to inquire of the deity of the place, what country 
was allotted them for their place of settlement. To this 
proposal all assented ; so that Brutus, attended with G-erion, 
the augur, and twelve of the oldest men, set forward to the 
temple, with all things necessary for the sacrifice. Being 
arrived at the place, and presenting themselves before the 
shrine with garlands about their temples, as the ancient 
rites required, they made three fires to the throe deities. 
Jupiter, Mercury, and Diana, and offered sacrifices to each 
of them. Brutus himself, holding before the altar of the 
goddess a consecrated vessel filled with wine, and the blood 
of a white hart, with his face looking up to the image, broke 
silence in these words : — 

" Diva potens nemorum, terror sylvestribus apris ; 
Cui licet amfractus ire per aethereos, 
Infernasque domos ; terrestria jura resolve, 

Et die quas terras nos habitare velis ? 
Die certain sedem qua te venerabor in aevuni, 
Qua tibi virgineis templa dicabo choris I " 

Goddess of woods, tremendous in the chase 
To mountain boars, and all the sarage race 1 
Wide o'er the ethereal walks extends thy swa», 
And o'er the infernal mansions void of day ! 


Look upon us on earth ! unfold our fate, 
And say what region is our destined seat ? 
Where shall we next thy lasting temples raise ? 
And choirs of virgins celebrate thy praise ? 

These words he repeated nine times, after which he took 
four turns round the altar, poured the wine into the fire, and 
then laid himself down upon the hart's skin, which he had 
spread before the altar, where he fell asleep. About the 
third hour of the night, the usual time for deep sleep, the 
goddess seemed to present herself before him, and foretell 
his future success as follows : — 

" Brute ! sub occasum solis trans Gallica regna 

Insula in oceano est undique clausa mari : 
Insula in oceano est habitata gigantibus olim, 

Nunc deserta quidem, gentibus apta tuis. 
Hanc pete, nam que tibi sedes erit ilia perennis : 

Sic net natis altera Troja tuis. 
Sic de prole tua reges nascentur : et ipsis 

Totius terra subditus orbis erit." 

Brutus ! there lies beyond the Gallic bounds 

An island which the western sea surrounds, 

By giants once possessed ; now few remain 

To bar thy entrance, or obstruct thy reign. 

To reach that happy shore thy sails employ ; 

There fate decrees to raise a second Troy, 

An* 1 *»und an empire in thy royal line, 

Whte^ ime shall ne'er destroy, nor bounds confine. 

Awakened by the vision, he was for some time in doubt 
with himself, whether what he had seen was a dream or a 
real appearance of the goddess herself, foretelling to what 
land he should go. At last he called to his companions, and 
related to them in order the vision he had in his sleep, at 
which they very much rejoiced, and were urgent to return 
to their ships, and while the wind favoured them, to hasten 
their voyage towards the west, in pursuit of what the god- 
dess had promised. Without delay, therefore, they returned 
to their company, and set sail again, and after a course of 
thirty days came to Africa, being ignorant as yet whither to 
steer. From thence they came to the Philenian altars, and 
to a place called Salinae, and sailed between Ruscicada and 
the mountains of Azara,* where they underwent great dan- 

* It is probably impossible to discover whether these names describe ex* 
kting places, or are purely the invention of the author- 

102 Geoffrey's British history. [bpcki. 

ger from pirates, whom, notwithstanding, they vanquished, 
and enriched themselves with their spoils. 

Chap. XII. — Brutus enters Aquitaine with Corineus, 

From thence, passing the river Malua, they arrived at 
Mauritania, where at last, for want of provisions, they 
were obliged to go ashore; and, dividing themselves into 
several bands, they laid waste the whole country. When 
they had well stored their ships, they steered to the Pillars 
of Hercules, where they saw some of those sea monsters, 
called Syrens, which surrounded their ships, and very nearly 
overturned them. However, they made a shift to escape, 
and came to the Tyrrhenian Sea, upon the shores of which 
they found four several nations descended from the banished 
Trojans, that had accompanied Antenor* in his flight. The 
name of their commander was Corineus, a modest man in 
matters of council, and of great courage and boldness, who, 
in an encounter with any person, even of gigantic stature, 
would immediately overthrow him, as if he were a child. 
When they understood from whom he was descended, they 
joined company with him and those under his government, 
who from the name of their leader were afterwards called 
the Cornish people, and indeed were more serviceable to 
Brutus than the rest in all his engagements. From thence 
they came to Aquitaine, and entering the mouth of the 
Loire, cast anchor. There they stayed seven days and 
viewed the country. Goffarius Pictus, who was king of 
Aquitaine at that time, having an account brought him of 
the arrival of a foreign people with a great fleet upon his 
coasts, sent ambassadors to them to demand whether they 
brought with them peace or war. The ambassadors, on 
their way towards the fleet, met Corineus, who was come 
out with two hundred men, to hunt in the woods. They 
demanded of him, who gave him leave to enter the king's 
forests, and kill his game ; (which by an ancient law nobody 
was allowed to do without leave from the prince.) Corineus 
answered, that as for that matter there was no occasion for 
asking leave; upon which one of them, named Imbertus, 
rushing forward, with a full drawn bow levelled a shot at 
* Sea Viol's iEneid i, 241. 


him. Corineus avoids the arrow and immediately runs up 
to him, and with his bow in his hand breaks his head. The 
rest narrowly escaped, and carried the news of this disaster 
to Goffarius. The Pictavian general was struck with sorrow 
for it, and immediately raised a vast army, to revenge the 
death of his ambassador. Brutus, on the other hand, upon 
hearing the ruinourof his coming, sends away the women 
and children to the ships, which he took care well 
guarded, and commands them to stay there, while he, with 
the rest that were able to bear arms, should go to meet the 
army. At last an assault being made, a bloody fight ensued.; 
in which after a great part of the day had been sperity Cori* 
neus was ashamed to see the Aquitanians so. bravely stand 
their ground, and the Trojans maintaining the fight without 
victory. He therefore takes fresh courage, and drawing off 
his men to the right wing, breaks in upon the very thickest 
of the enemies, where he made such slaughter on every side, 
that at last he broke the line and put them all to flight. In 
this encounter he lost his sword, but by good fortune, met 
with a battle-axe, with which he clave down to the waist 
every one that stood in his way. Brutus and every body 
else, both friends and enemies, were amazed at his courage 
and strength, for he brandished about his battle-axe among 
the flying troops, and terrified them not a little with these 
insulting words, " Whither fly ye, cowards ? whither fly ye, 
base wretches ? stand your ground, that ye may encounter 
Corineus. What ! for shame ! do so many thousands of you 
fly one man ? However, take this comfort for your flight, 
that you are pursued by one, before whom the Tyrrhenian 
giants could not stand their ground, but fell down slain in 
heaps together." 

Chap. XIII. — Goffarius routed by Brutus* 

At these words one of them, named Subardus, who was a 
consul, returns with three hundred men to assault him ; but 
Corineus with his shield wards off the blow, and lifting up 
his battle-axe gave him such a stroke upon the top of his 
helmet, that at once he clave him down to the waist ; and 
then rushing upon the rest he made terrible slaughter by 
wheeling about his battle-axe among them, and, running to 

i04 Geoffrey's British history. lboo»» 

and fro, seemed more anxious to inflict blows on the enemy 
than careful to avoid those which they aimed at him. Some 
had their hands and arms, some their very shoulders, some 
again their heads, and others their legs cut off by him. All 
fought with him only, and he alone seemed to fight with all. 
Brutus seeing him thus beset, out of regard to him, runs 
with a band of men to his assistance : at which the battle is 
again renewed with vigour and with loud shouts, and great 
numbers slain on both sides. But now the Trojans presently 
gain the victory, and put Goffarius with his Pictavians to 
flight. The king after a narrow escape went to several 
parts of Gaul, to procure succours among such princes as 
( were related or known to him. At that time Gaul was sub- 
ject to twelve princes, who with equal authority possessed the 
whole country. These receive him courteously, and promise 
with one consent to expel the foreigners from Aquitaine. 

Chap. XIV. — Brutus, after his victory with Goffarius, ravages Aquitaine 
with fire and sword, 

Brutus, in joy for the victory, enriches his men with the 
spoils of the slain, and then, dividing them into several 
bodies, marches into the country with a design to lay it 
waste, and load his fleet with the spoil. With this view 
he sets the cities on fire, seizes the riches that were in them, 
destroys the fields, and makes dreadful slaughter among the 
citizens and common people, being unwilling to leave so 
much as one alive of that wretched nation. While he was 
making this destruction over all Aquitaine, he came to a 
place where the city of Tours now stands, which he after- 
wards built, as Homer testifies. As soon as he had looked 
out a place convenient for the purpose, he pitched his camp 
there, for a place of safe retreat, when occasion should re- 
quire. For he was afraid on account of Goffarius's approach 
with the kings and princes of Gaul, and a very great army, 
which was now come near the place, ready to give him 
battle. Having therefore finished his camp, he expected to 
engage with Goffarius in two days' time, placing the utmost 
confidence in the conduct and courage of the young men 
under his command. 


Chap. XV.— Gqffarius's fight with Brutus. 

Goffabius, being informed that the Trojans were in those 
parts, marched day and night, till he came within a close 
view of Brutus's camp ; and then with a stern look and 
disdainful smile, broke out into these expressions, " Oh 
wretched fate ! Have these base exiles made a camp also 
in my kingdom? Arm, arm, soldiers, and march through 
their thickest ranks : we shall soon take these pitiful fellows 
like sheep, and disperse them throughout our kingdom for 
slaves." At these words they prepared their arms, and ad- 
vanced in twelve bodies towards the enemy. Brutus, on the 
other hand, with his forces drawn up in order, went forth 
boldly to meet them, and gave his men directions for their 
conduct, where they should assault and where they should 
be upon the defensive. At the beginning of the attack, the 
Trojans had the advantage, and made a rapid slaughter of 
the enemy, of whom there fell near two thousand, which so 
terrified the rest, that they were on the point of running 
away. But, as the victory generally falls to that side which 
has very much the superiority in numbers, so the Gauls, 
being three to one in number, though overpowered at first, 
yet at last joining in a great body together, broke in upon 
the Trojans, and forced them to retire to their camp with 
much slaughter. The victory thus gained, they besieged 
them in their camp, with a design not to suffer them to stir 
out until they should either surrender themselves prisoners, 
or be cruelly starved to death with a long famine. 

In the meantime, Corineus the night following entered 
into consultation with Brutus, and proposed to go out that 
night by by-ways, and conceal himself in an adjacent wood 
till break of day ; and while Brutus should sally forth upon 
the enemy in the morning twilight, he with his company 
would surprise them from behind and put them to slaughter. 
Brutus was pleased with this stratagem of Corineus, who 
according to his engagement got out cunningly with three 
thousand men, and put himself under the covert of the 
woods. As soon as it was day Brutus marshalled his men 
and opened the camp to go out to fight. The Gauls meet 
him and begin the engagement : many thousands fall on 
both aides, neither party giving quarter. There was present 


a Trojan, named Turonus, the nephew of Brutus, inferior to 
none but Corineus in courage and strength of body. He 
1 alone with his sword killed six hundred men, bat at last was 
unfortunately slain himself by the number of Gauls that 
rushed upon him. From him the city of Tours derived its 
name, because he was buried there. While both armies 
were thus warmly engaged, Corineus came upon them un- 
awares, and fell fiercely upon the rear of the enemy, which 
put new courage into his friends on the other side, and made 
them exert themselves with increased vigour. The Gauls 
were astonished at the very shout of Corineus's men, and 
thinking their number to be much greater than it really was, 
they hastily quitted the field ; but the Trojans pursued them, 
and killed them in the pursuit, nor did they desist till they 
had gained a complete victory. Brutus, though in joy for 
this great success, was yet afflicted to observe the number of 
his forces daily lessened, while that of the enemy increased 
more and more. He was in suspense for some time, whether 
he had better continue the war or not, but at last he deter- 
mined to return to his ships while the greater part of his 
followers was yet safe, and hitherto victorious, and to go in 
quest of the island which the goddess had told him of. So 
without further delay, with the consent of his company, he 
repaired to the fleet, and loading it with the riches and 
spoils he had taken, set sail with a fair wind towards the 
promised island, and arrived on the coast of Totness. 

Chap. XVI. — Albion divided between Brutus and Corineus. 

The island was then called Albion,* and was inhabited by 
none but a few giants. Notwithstanding this, the pleasant 
situation of the places, the plenty of rivers abounding with 
fish, and the engaging prospect of its woods, made Brutus 
and his company very desirous to fix their habitation in it. 
They therefore passed through all the provinces, forced the 
giants to fly into the caves of the mountains, and divided the 
country among them according to the directions of their 

* The earliest real notice of Albion occurs in a work attributed to Aris- 
totle [De Mundo, sec. 3], who wrote, before Christ 340, " Beyond the 
Pillars of Hercules is the ocep.n which flows round the earth. In it arc 
two very large islands, called Brituiunc ; these are Albion and lerne," &c 

eu.18.3 DEATH OF GOEMAOOT. 107 

commander. After this they began to till the ground and 
build houses, so that in a little time the country looked like 
a place that had been long inhabited. At last Brutus called 
the island after his own name Britain, and his companions 
Britons ; for by these means he desired to perpetuate the 
memory of his name. From whence afterwards the lan- 
guage of the nation, which at first bore the name of Trojan, 
or rough Greek, was called British. But Corineus, in 
imitation of his leader, called that part of the island which 
fell to his share, Corinea, and his people Corineans, after his 
name ; and though he had his choice of the provinces before 
all the rest, yet he preferred this country, which is now 
called in Latin Cornubia, either from its being in the shape 
of a horn (in Latin Cornu), or from the corruption of the 
said name.* For it was a diversion to him to encounter the 
said giants, which were in greater numbers there than in all 
the other provinces that fell to the share of his companions. 
Among the rest was one detestable monster, named Goema- 
got, in stature twelve cubits, and of such prodigious strength 
that at one shake he pulled up an oak as if it had been a 
hazel wand. On a certain day, when Brutus was holding a 
solemn festival to the gods, in the port where they at first 
landed, this giant with twenty more of his companions came 
in upon the Britons, among whom he made a dreadful 
slaughter. But the Britons at last assembling together in a 
body, put them to the rout, and killed them every one but 
Goemagot. Brutus had given orders to have him preserved 
alive, out of a desire to see a combat between him and Cori- 
neus, who took a great pleasure in such encounters. Cori- 
neus, overjoyed at this, prepared himself, and throwing 
aside his arms, challenged him to wrestle- with him. At the 
beginning of the encounter, Corineus and the giant, stand- 
ing, front to front, held each other strongly in their arrna^ 
and panted aloud for breath ; but Goemagot presently grasp- 
ing Corineus with all his might, broke three of his ribs, two 
on his right side and one on his left. At which Corineus, 
highly enraged, roused up his whole strength, and snatching 
him upon his shoulders, ran with him, as fast as the weight 
wouid allow him, to the next shore, and there getting upon 

* The etymology of the word Cornwall, as if Cornu-Gallia or Wallue, 
if equally imaginary. 

108 Geoffrey's British history. *■** i. 

the top of a high rock, hurled down the savage monster into 
the sea ; where falling on the sides of craggy rocks, he was 
torn to pieces, and coloured the waves with his blood. The 
place where he fell, taking its name from the giant's fall, 
is called Lam Goemagot, that is, Groemagot's Leap, to this 

Chap. XVII. — The building of new Troy by Brutus, upon the rive* 

Brutus, having thus at last set eyes upon his kingdom, 
formed a design of building a city, and with this view, tra- 
velled through the land to find out a convenient situation, 
and coming to the river Thames, he walked along the shore, 
and at last pitched upon a place very fit for his purpose. 
Here, therefore, he built a city, which he called New Troy ; 
under which name it continued a long time after, till at last, 
by the corruption of the original word, it come to be called 
Trinovantum. But afterwards when Lud, the brother of 
Cassibellaun, who made war against Julius Caesar, obtained 
the government of the kingdom, he surrounded it with 
stately walls, and towers of admirable workmanship, and 
ordered it to be called after his name, Kaer-Lud, that is, the 
City of Lud.f But this very thing became afterwards the 
occasion of a great quarrel between him and his brother 
Nennius, who took offence at his abolishing the name of 
Troy in this country. Of this quarrel Gildas the historian 
has given a full account ; for which reason I pass it over, for 
fear of debasing by my account of it, what so great a writer 
has so eloquently related. 

Chap. XVIII.— New Troy being built, and laws made for the government 
of it, it is given to the citizens that were to inhabit it. 

After Brutus had finished the building of the city, he made 
choice of the citizens that were to inhabit it, and prescribed 
them laws for their peaceable government. At this time 

* It is now called the Haw, and is near Plymouth. 

T This is the city now called London, and it is evident that the writer 
wishes it to be supposed that the modern name is derived from the ancient, 
as if it were Lud-ton or Lud-don. The first notice of London found in 
authentic history occurs in Tacitus, Annal. lib. xiv. c. 33, the second notice 
in Ptolemy, a.d. 120, lib. i. 15. 

«h. 1, 2.] DEATH OF HTJMBER. 109 

Eli the priest governed in Judea, and the ark of the cove- 
nant was taken by the Philistines. At the same time, 
also, the sons of Hector, after the expulsion of the posterity 
of Antenor, reigned in Troy ; as in Italy did Sylvius JEneas, 
the son of JEneas, the uncle of Brutus, and the third king 
of the Latins.* 



Chap. I. — After the death of Brutus, his three sons succeed him in th§ 

During these transactions, Brutus had by his wife Ignoge 
three famous sons, whose names were Locrin, Albanact, and 
Kamber. These, after their father's death, which happened \ 
in the twenty-fourth year after his arrival, buried him in the 
city which he had built, and then having divided the king- 
dom of Britain among them, retired each to his government. 
Locrin, the eldest, possessed the middle part of the island, 
called afterwards from his name, Loegria. Kamber had that 
part which lies beyond the river Severn, now called Wales, 
but which was for a long time named Kambria ; and hence 
that people still call themselves in their British tongue Kam- 
bri. Albanact, the younger brother, possessed the country 
he called Albania, now Scotland. After they had a long 
time reigned in peace together, Humber, king of the Huns, 
arrived in Albania, and having killed Albanact in battle, 
forced his people to fly to Locrin for protection. 

Chap. II. — Locrin, having routed Humber, falls in love with Estrildis. 

Locrin, at hearing this news, joined his brother Kamber, 
and went with the whole strength of the kingdom to meet 
the king of the Huns, near the river now called Humber, 
where he gave him battle, and put him to the rout. Humber 
made towards the river in his flight, and was drowned in it. 
on account of which it has since borne his name. Locrin, 

* From this statement it would follow that the arrival of Brutus in 
Britain is to be placed about the year 2100 before Christ 

110 Geoffrey's British history. [**** 

after the victory, bestowed the plunder of the enemy upon 

his own men, reserving for himself the gold and silver 

which he found in the ships, together with three virgins of 

admirable beauty, whereof one was the daughter of a king 

in Germany, whom with the other two Humber had forcibly 

brought away with him, after he had ruined their country. 

I Her name was Estrildis, and her beauty such as was hardly 

I to be matched. No ivory or new-fallen snow, no lily could 

1 exceed the whiteness of her skin. Locrin, smitten with 

love, would have gladly married her, at which Corineus was 

extremely incensed, on account of the engagement which 

Locrin had entered into with him to marry his daughter. 

Chap. III. — Corineus resents the affront put upon his daughter. 

He went, therefore, to the king, and wielding a battle-axe 
in his right hand, vented his rage against him in these 
"words: "Do you thus reward me, Locrin, for the many 
wounds which I have suffered under your father's command 
x in his wars with strange nations, that you must slight my 
daughter, and debase yourself to marry a barbarian ? 
While there is strength in this right hand, that has been de- 
structive to so many giants upon the Tyrrhenian coasts, I 
will never put up with this affront." And repeating this 
again and again with a loud voice, he shook his battle-axe 
«. as if he was going to strike him, till the friends of both 
interposed, and after they had appeased Corineus, obliged 
Locrin to perform his agreement. 

Chap. IV.— Locrin at last marries Guendokena, the daughter qf 

| Locrin therefore married Corineus's daughter, named 
I Guendokena, yet still retained his love for Estrildis, for 
l whom he made apartments under ground, in which he 

entertained her, and caused her to be honourably attended. 

For he was resolved at least to carry on a private amour 
/ with her, since he could not live with her openly for fear of 

Corineus. In this manner he concealed her, and made 

frequent visits to her for seven years together, without the 
; privity of any but his most intimate domestics ; and all 

under a pretence of performing some secret sacr'fices to hit 


gods* by which he imposed on the credulity of every body. 

In the meantime Estrildis became with child, and was i 

delivered of a most beautiful daughter, whom she named , 

Sabre. Guendoloena was also with child, and brought forth / 

a son, who was named Maddan, and put under the care of / 
his grandfather Corineus to be educated. 

Chap. V. — Locrin is killed; Estrildis and Sabre are thrown into a 


But in process of time, when Corineus was dead, Locrin 
divorced Guendoloena, and advanced Estrildis to be queen. 
Guendoloena, provoked beyond measure at this, retired into 
Cornwall, where she assembled together all the forces of that 
kingdom, and began to raise disturbances against Locrin. 
» At last both armies joined battle near the river Sture, where 
Locrin was killed by the shot of an arrow. After his death, 
Guendoloena took upon her the government of the whole 
kingdom, retaining her father's furious spirit. For she 
commanded Estrildis and her daughter Sabre to be thrown i 
into the river now called the Severn, and published an edict ' 
through all Britain, that the river should bear the* damsel's 
name, hoping by this to perpetuate her memory, and by that 
the infamy of her husband. So that to this day the river is 
called in the British tongue Sabren, which by the corruption 
of the name is in another language Sabrina. ^ 

Chap. VI. — Guendolcena delivers vp the kingdom to Maddan, her son, 
after whom succeeds Mempricius. 

Guendolcena reigned fifteen years after the death of 
Locrin, who had reigned ten, and then advanced her son 
Maddan (whom she saw now at maturity) to the throne, 
contenting herself with the country of Cornwall for the 
remainder of her life. At this time Samuel the prophet j 
governed in Judaea, Sylvius JEneas was yet living, and / 
Homer was esteemed a famous orator and poet.* Maddan, ■ 
now in possession of the crown, had by his wife two sons, 
Mempricius and Malim, and ruled the kingdom in peace and 

* It is only necessary to compare such passages as these with the 
Grecian or Roman Histories, and we cannot avoid perceiving the legendary 
thoracter of Geoffrey of Monmouth's History. 


with c;re forty years. As soon as he was dead, the two 
brothers quarrelled for the kingdom, each being ambitious 
of the sovereignty of the whole island. • Mempricius, 
impatient to attain his ends, enters into treaty with Malim, 
under colour of making a composition with him, and, having 
formed a conspiracy, murdered him in the assembly where 
their ambassadors were met. By these means he obtained 
the dominion of the whole island, over which he exercised 
such tyranny, that he left scarcely a nobleman alive in it, 
and either by violence or treachery oppressed every one that 
he apprehended might be likely to succeed him, pursuing his 
hatred to his whole race. He also deserted his own wife, by 
whom he had a noble youth named Ebraucus, and addicted 
himself to sodomy, preferring unnatural lust to the pleasures 
of the conjUgar state. At last, in the twentieth year of his # 
reign, while he was hunting, he retired from his company 
into a valley, where he was surrounded by a great multitude 
of ravenous wolves, and devoured by them in a horrible 
manner. Then did Saul reign in Judaea, and Eurystheus in 

Chap. VII. — Ebraucus, the successor of Mempricius, conquers the 
Gauls, and builds the towns Kaerebrauc, $c. 

Mempricius being dead, Ebraucus, his son, a man of great 
stature and wonderful strength, took upon him the govern- 
ment of Britain, which he held forty years. He was the 
first after Brutus who invaded Gaul with a fleet, and 
distressed its provinces by killing their men and laying 
waste their cities ; and having by these means enriched 
himself with an infinite quantity of gold and silver, he 
returned victorious. After this he built a city on the other 
side of the Humber, which, from his own name, he called 
Kaerebrauc, that is, the city of Ebraucus,* about the time 
that David reigned in Judaea, and Sylvius Latinus in Italy ; 
and that Gad, Nathan, and Asaph prophesied in Israel. He 
also built the city of Alclud f towards Albani, and the town 

• York seems to be a corruption of Ebrauc. It is first mentioned by 
Ptolemy (ii. 3.) ad. 120. 

t Alclud or Alcluith is unknown to tho classic writers: it is first 
mentioned by Gildas, and is thought to be the modem Dumbarton, 

co. I*.] BRCTUS'S REIGN. 113 

of mount Agned,* called at this time the Castle of Maidens, 
or the Mountain of Sorrow. 

Chap. YIII.—Ebraucus's twenty sons go to Germany, and his thirty 
daughters to Sylvius Alba, in Italy. 

This prince had twenty sons and thirty daughters by twenty 
wives, and with great valour governed the kingdom of 
Britain sixty years. The names of his sons were, Brutus 
surnamed Greenshield, Margadud, Sisillius, Begin, Morivid, 
Bladud, Lagon, Bodloan, Kincar, Spaden, Gaul, Darden, 
Eldad, Ivor, Gangu, Hector, Kerin, Bud, Assarach, Buel. 
The names of his daughters were, Gloigni, Ignogni, Oudas, 
Guenliam, Gaudid, Angarad, Guendoloe, Tangustel, Gorgon, 
Median, Methahel, Ourar, Malure, Kambreda, Bagan, Gael, 
Ecub, Nest, Cheum, Stadud, Gladud, Ebren, Blagan, 
Aballac, Angaes, Galaes, (the most celebrated beauty at 
that time in Britain or Gaul,) Edra, Anaor, Stadial, Egron. 
All these daughters their father sent into Italy to Sylvius 
Alba, who reigned after Sylvius Latinus, where they were 
married among the Trojan nobility, the Latin and Sabine 
women refusing to associate with them. But the sons, 
under the conduct of their brother Assaracus, departed 
in a fleet to Germany, and having, with the assistance 
of Sylvius Alba, subdued the people there, obtained that 

Chap. IX. — After Ebraucus reigns Brutus his son, after him LeU, and 
after LeU, Hudibras. 

But Brutus, surnamed Greenshield, stayed with his father, 
whom he succeeded in the government, and reigned twelve 
years. After him reigned Leil, his son, a peaceful and just 
prince, who, enjoying a prosperous reign, built in the north 
of Britain a city, called by his name, Kaerleil ; j" at the same 
time that Solomon began to build the temple of Jerusalem, 
and the queen of Sheba came to hear his wisdom ; at which 
time also Sylvius Epitus succeeded his father Alba, in Italy. 
Leil reigned twenty-five years, but towards the latter end of 
his life grew more remiss in his government, so that his 
neglect of affairs speedily occasioned a civil dissension in the 

* Edinburgh. + Now Carlisle. 


kingdom. After him reigned his son, Hudibras, thirty-nine 
years, and composed the civil dissension among his people. 
He built Kaerlem or Canterbury, Kaerguen or Winchester, 
and the town of Mount Paladur, now Shaftesbury. At this 
place an eagle spoke, while the wall of the town was being 
built ; and indeed I should have transmitted the speech to 
posterity, had I thought it true, as the rest of the history. At 
this time reigned Capys, the son of Epitus ; and Haggai, 
Amos, Joel, and Azariah, were prophets in Israel. 

Chap. X. — Bladud succeeds Hudibras in the kingdom, and practises 
magical operations. 

Next succeeded Bladud, his son, and reigned twenty years. 
He built Kaerbadus, now Bath, and made hot baths in it 
for the benefit of the public, which he dedicated to the god- 
dess Minerva ; in whose temple he kept fires that never went 
out nor consumed to ashes, but as soon as they began to de- 
cay were turned into balls of stone. About this time the 
prophet Elias prayed that it might not rain upon earth ; and 
it did not rain for three years and six months. This prince 
was a very ingenious man, and taught necromancy in his 
kingdom, nor did he leave off pursuing his magical operations, 
till he attempted to fly to the upper region of the air with 
wings which he had prepared, and fell down upon the temple 
of Apollo, in the city of Trinovantum, where he was dashed 
to pieces. 

Chap. Xl.—Leir the son of Bladud, having no son, divides his kingdom 
among his daughters. 

After this unhappy fate of Bladud, Leir,* his son was 
advanced to the throne, and nobly governed his country sixty 
years. He built upon the river Sore a city, called in the 
British tongue, Kaerleir, in the Saxon, Leircestre.f He 
was without male issue, but had three daughters, whose 
names were G-onorilla, Regau, and Cordeilla, of whom he 
was dotingly fond, but especially of his youngest, Cordeilla. 
When he began to grow old, he had thoughts of dividing his 
kingdom among them, and of bestowing them on such 
husbands as were fit to be advanced to the government with 
them. But to make trial who was worthy to have the best 

* King Lear, the hero of Shakespeare's drama. t Leicester* 

cm.11,] king leik's daughters. 115 

part of his kingdom, he went to each of them to ask which 
of them loved him most. The question being proposed, 
Gonorilla, the eldest, made answer, " That she called heaven 
to witness, she loved him more than her own soul." The 
father replied, " Since you have preferred my declining age 
before your own life, I will marry you, my dearest daughter, 
to whomsoever you shall make choice of, and give with you 
the third part of my kingdom." Then Rcgau, the second 
daughter, willing, after the example of her sister, to prevail 
upon her father's good nature, answered with an oath, " That 
she could not otherwise express her thoughts, but that she 
loved him above all creatures." The credulous father upon 
this made her the same promise that he did to her eldest 
sister, that is, the choice of a husband, with the third part of 
his kingdom. But Cordeilla, the youngest, understanding 
how easily he was satisfied with the flattering expressions of 
her sisters, was desirous to make trial of his affection after a 
different manner. "My father," said she, "is there any 
daughter that can love her father more than duty requires ? 
In my opinion, whoever pretends to it, must disguise her 
real sentiments under the veil of flattery. I have always 
loved you as a father, nor do I yet depart from my purposed 
duty; and if you insist to have something more extorted 
from me, hear now the greatness of my affection, which I 
always bear you, and take this for a short answer to all your 
questions ; look how much you have, so much is your value, 
and so much do I love you." The father, supposing that she 
spoke this out of the abundance of her heart, was highly 
provoked, and immediately replied, " Since you have so far 
despised my old age as not to think me worthy the love that 
your sisters express for me, you shall have from me the like 
regard, and shall be excluded from any share with your 
sisters in my kingdom. Notwithstanding, I do not say but 
that since you are my daughter, I will marry you to some 
foreigner, if fortune offers you any such husband ; but will 
never, I do assure you, make it my business to procure so 
honourable a match for you as for your sisters; because, 
though I have hitherto loved you more than them, you have 
in requital thought me less worthy of your affection than 
they." And, without further delay, after consultation with 
his nobility, he bestowed his two other daughters upon the 



dukes of Cornwall and Albania, with half the island at 
present, but after his death, the inheritance of the whole 
monarchy of Britain. 

It happened after this, that Aganippus, king of the 
Franks, having heard of the fame of Cordeilla's beauty, 
forthwith sent his ambassadors to the king to demand her in 
marriage. The father, retaining yet his anger towards her, 
made answer, "That he was very willing to bestow his 
daughter, but without either money or territories ; because 
he had already given away his kingdom with all his treasure 
to his eldest daughters, Gonorilla and Regau." When this 
was told Aganippus, he, being very much in love with the 
lady, sent again to king Leir, to tell him, " That he had mo- 
ney and territories enough, as he possessed the third part 
of Gaul, and desired no more than his daughter only, that 
he might have heirs by her." At last the match was 
concluded ; Cordeilla was sent to Gaul, and married to Aga- 

Chap. XII. — Leir, finding the ingratitude of his two eldest daughters, 
betakes himself to his youngest, Cordeilla, in Gaul. 

A long time after this, when Leir came to be infirm through 
old age, the two dukes, on whom he had bestowed Britain 
with his two daughters, fostered an insurrection against him, 
and deprived him of his kingdom, and of aU regal authority, 
which he had hitherto exercised with great power and glory. 
At length, by mutual agreement, Maglaunus, duke of Alba- 
nia, one of his sons-in-law, was to allow him a maintenance 
at his own house, together with sixty soldiers, who were to 
be kept for state. After two years' stay with his son-in-law, 
his daughter Gonorilla grudged the number of his men, who 
began to upbraid the ministers of the court with their scanty 
allowance ; and, having spoken to her husband about it, she 
gave orders that the numbers of her father's followers should 
be reduced to thirty, and the rest discharged. The father, 
resenting this treatment, left Maglaunus, and went to Henu- 
inus, duke of Cornwall, to whom he had married his daugh- 
ter Regau. Here he met with an honourable reception, but 
before the year was at an end, a quarrel happened between 
the two families, which raised Regan's indignation ; so that 
the commanded her father to discharge all his attendants but 

tn. li.) KING LEIR IN DI8TBESS. 1 1* 

five, and to be contented with their service. This second 
affliction was insupportable to him, and made him return 
again to his former daughter, with hopes that the misery of 
his condition might move in her some sentiments of filial 
piety, and that he, with his family, might find a subsistence 
with her. But she, not forgetting her resentment, swore by 
the gods he should not stay with her, unless he would dismiss 
his retinue, and be contented with the attendance of one 
man ; and with bitter reproaches she told him how ill his 
desire of vain-glorious pomp suited his age and poverty. 
When he found that she was by no means to be prevailed 
upon, he was at last forced to comply, and, dismissing the 
rest, to take up with one man only. But by this time he 
began to reflect more sensibly with himself upon the gran- 
deur from which he had fallen, and the miserable state to 
which he was now reduced, and to enter upon thoughts of going 
beyond sea to his youngest daughter. Yet he doubted whe- 
ther he should be able to move her commiseration, because 
(as was related above) he had treated her so unworthily. 
However, disdaining to bear any longer such base usage, he 
took ship for Gaul. In his passage he observed he had only 
the third place given him among the princes that were with 
him in the ship, at which, with deep sighs and tears, he burst 
forth into the following complaint : — 

" O irreversible decrees of the Fates, that never swerve 
from your stated course ! why did you ever advance me to 
an unstable felicity, since the punishment of lost happiness 
is greater than the sense of present misery ? The remem- 
brance of the time when vast numbers of men obsequiously 
attended me in the taking the cities and wasting the enemy's 
countries, more deeply pierces my heart than the view of my 
present calamity, which has exposed me to the derision of 
those who were formerly prostrate at my feet. Oh ! the 
enmity of fortune ! Shall I ever again see the day when 
I may be able to reward those according to their deserts who 
have forsaken me in my distress ? How true was thy an- 
swer, Cordeilla, when I asked thee concerning thy love to 
me, ' As much as you have, so much is your value, and so 
much do I love you.' While I had anything to give they 
valued me, being friends, not to me, but to my gifts : they 
loved me then, but they loved my gifts much more : when 

118 Geoffrey's British histoby. [mm 

my gifts ceased, my friends vanished. But with what face 
shall I presume to see you, my dearest daughter, since in my 
anger I married you upon worse terms than your sisters, 
who, after all the mighty favours they have received from 
me, suffer me to be in banishment and poverty?" 

As he was lamenting his condition in these and the like 
expressions, he arrived at Karitia,* where his daughter was, 
and waited before the city while he sent a messenger to in- 
form her of the misery he was fallen into, and to desire her 
relief for a father who suffered both hunger and nakedness. 
Cordeilla was startled at the news, and wept bitterly, and 
with tears asked how many men her father had with him. 
The messenger answered, he had none but one man, who had 
been his armour-bearer, and was staying with him without 
the town. Then she took what money she thought might be 
sufficient, and gave it to the messenger, with orders to carry 
her father to another city, and there give out that he was 
sick, and to provide for him bathing, clothes, and all other 
nourishment. She likewise gave orders that he should take 
into his service forty men, well clothed and accoutred, and 
that when all things were thus prepared he should notify his 
arrival to king Aganippus and his daughter. The messenger 
quickly returning, carried Leir to another city, and there 
kept him concealed, till he had done every thing that Cor- 
deilla had commanded. 

Chap. XIII. — He is very honourably received by Cordeilla and the king 
of Gaul. 

As soon as he was provided with his royal apparel, orna- 
ments, and retinue, he sent word to Aganippus and his 
daughter, that he was driven out of his kingdom of Britain 
by his sons-in-law, and was come to them to procure their 
assistance for recovering his dominions. Upon which they, 
attended with their chief ministers of state and the nobility 
of the kingdom, went out to meet him, and received him 
honourably, and gave into his management the whole power 
of Gaul, till such time as he should be restored to his former 

• Calak. 

c*. 14.1&] ukjuth or oggnwijiA. 119 

Chap. XIV.— Leir, being restored to the kingdom by the help of his son- 
in-law and Cordeilla, dies. 

In the meantime Aganippus sent officers over all Gaul to 
raise an army, to restore his father-in-law to his kingdom of 
Britain. Which done, Leir returned to Britain with his son 
and daughter and the forces which they had raised, where 
he fought with his sons-in-law and routed them. Having 
thus reduced the whole kingdom to his power, he died the 
third year after. Aganippus also died ; and Cordeilla, 
obtaining the government of the kingdom, buried her father 
in a certain vault, which she ordered to be made for him 
under the river Sore, in Leicester, and which had been 
built originally under the ground to the honour of the god 
Janus. " And here all the workmen of the city, upon the 
anniversary solemnity of that festival, used to begin their 
yearly labours. 

Chap. XV. — Cordeilla, being imprisoned, kills herself. Margan, aspiring 
to the whole kingdom, is killed by Cunedagitts. 

After a peaceful possession of the government for five years, 
Cordeilla began to meet with disturbances from the two sons 
of her sisters, being both young men of great spirit, whereof 
one, named Margan, was born to Maglaunus, and the other, 
named Cunedagius, to Henuinus. These, after the death of 
their fathers, succeeding them in their dukedoms, were in- 
censed to see Britain subject to a woman, and raised forces 
in order to raise a rebellion against the queen ; nor would 
they desist from hostilities, till, after a general waste of her 
countries, and several battles fought, they at last took her 
and put her in prison, where for grief at the loss of her 
kingdom she killed herself. After this they divided the 
island between them ; of which the part that reaches from 
the north side of the Humber to Caithness, fell to Margan ; 
the other part from the same river westward was Cuneda- 
gius's share. At the end cf two years, some restless spirits 
that took pleasure in the troubles of the nation, had access to 
Margan, and inspired him with vain conceits, by representing 
to him how mean and disgraceful it was for him not to govern 
the whole island, which was his due by right of birth. 
Stirred up with these and the like suggestions, he marched 

120 Geoffrey's British history. [boo* n 

with an army through Cunedagius's country, and began to 
burn all before him. The war thus breaking out, he was 
met by Cunedagius with all his forces, who attacked Margan, 
killing no small number of his men, and, putting him to 
flight, pursued him from one. province to another, till at last 
he killed him in a town of Kambria, which since his death 
has been by the country people called Margan to this day. 
After the victory, Cunedagius gained the monarchy of the 
whole island, which he governed gloriously for three and 
thirty years. At this time flourished the prophets Isaiah 
and Hosea, and Rome was built upon the eleventh before 
the Kalends of May by the two brothers, Romulus and 

Chap. XVI. — The successors of Cunedagius in the kingdom. Ferrex is 
kilted by his brother Porrex, in a dispute for the government. 

At last Cunedagius dying, was succeeded by his son Rivallo, 
a fortunate youth, who diligently applied himself to the 
affairs of the government. In his time it rained blood three 
days together, and there fell vast swarms of flies, followed 
by a great mortality among the people. After him succeeded 
Gurgustius his son ; after him Sisillius ; after him Jago, the 
nephew of Gurgustius; after him Kinmarcus the son of 
Sisillius; after him Gorbogudo, who had two sons, Ferrex 
and Porrex. 

When their father grew old they began to quarrel about 
the succession ; but Porrex, who was the most ambitious of 
the two, forms a design of killing his brother by treachery, 
which the other discovering, escaped, and passed over into 
Gaul. There he procured aid from Suard king of the 
Franks, with which he returned and made war upon his 
brother ; coming to an engagement, Ferrex was killed and 
all his forces cut to pieces. When their mother, whose name 
was Widen, came to be informed of her son's death, she fell 
into a great rage, and conceived a mortal hatred against the 
survivor. For she had a greater affection for the deceased 
than for him, so that nothing less would appease her indigna- 
tion for his death, than her revenging it upon her surviving 
son. She took therefore her oppportunity when he was 
asleep, fell upon him, and with the assistance of her wo* 
• About the year before Chrat, 753. 


men tore him to pieces. From that time a long civil 
war oppressed the people, and the island became divided 
under the power of five kings, who mutually harassed one 

Chap. XVII. — Dunwallo Molmutius gains the sceptre of Britain, from 
whom came the Molmutine laws. 

At length arose a youth of great spirit, named Dunwallo 
Molmutius, who was the son of Cloten king of Cornwall, 
and excelled all the kings of Britain in valour and graceful- 
ness of person. When his father was dead, he was no 
sooner possessed of the government of that country, than he 
made war against Ymner king of Loegria, and killed him in 
battle. Hereupon Rudaucus king of Kambria, and Staterius 
king of Albania, had a meeting, wherein they formed an 
alliance together, and marched thence with their armies into 
Dunwallo's country to destroy all before them. Dunwallo 
met them with thirty thousand men, and gave them battle ; 
and when a great part of the day was spent in the fight, and 
the victory yet dubious, he drew off six hundred of his 
bravest men, and commanded them to put on the armour of 
the enemies that were slain, as he himself also did, throwing 
aside his own. Thus accoutred he marched up with speed 
to the enemy's ranks, as if he was of their party, and ap- 
proaching the very place where Rudaucus and Staterius 
were, commanded his men to fall upon them. In this 
assault the two kings were killed and many others with 
them. But Dunwallo Molmutius, fearing lest in this disguise 
his own men might fall upon him, returned with his com- 
panions to put off the enemy's armour, and take his own 
again; and then encouraged them to renew the assault, 
which they did with great vigour, and in a short time got 
the victory, by dispersing and putting to flight the enemy. 
From hence he marched into the enemy's countries, destroyed 
their towns and cities, and reduced the people under his 
obedience. When he had made an entire reduction of the 
whole island, he prepared for himself a crown of gold, and 
restored the kingdom to its ancient state. This prince 
established what the Britons call the Molmutine laws, which 
are famous among the English to this day. In these, among 
other things, of which St. Gildas wrote a long time after, ho 


enacted, that the temples of the gods, as also cities, should 
have the privilege of giving sanctuary and protection to any 
fugitive or criminal, that should flee to them from his enemy. 
He likewise enacted, that the ways leading to those temples 
and cities, as also husbandman's ploughs, should be allowed 
the same privilege. So that in his day, the murders and 
cruelties committed by robbers were prevented, and every 
body passed safe without any violence offered him. At last, 
after a reign of forty years spent in these and other acts of 
government, he died, and was buried in the city of Trino- 
vantum, near the temple of Concord, which he himself built, 
when he first established his laws. 


Chap. 1. — Brennius quarrels with Beiinus his brother , and in order to 
make war against him, marries the daughter of the king of the Nor- 

After this a violent quarrel happened between his two sons 
Beiinus and Brennius, who were both ambitious of succeed* 
ing to the kingdom. The dispute was, which of them should 
have the honour of wearing the crown. After a great many 
sharp conflicts that passed between them, the friends of both 
interposed, and brought them to agree on the division of the 
kingdom on these terms: that Beiinus should enjoy the 
crown of the island, with the dominions of Loegria, Kam- 
bria, and Cornwall; because, according to the Trojan consti- 
tution, the right of inheritance would come to him as the 
elder : and Brennius, as being the younger, should be subject 
to his brother, and have for his share Northumberland, 
which extended from the river Humber to Caithness. The 
covenant therefore being confirmed upon these conditions, 
they ruled the country for five years in peace and justice. 
But such a state of prosperity could not long stand against 
the endeavours of faction. For some lying incendiaries 
gained access to Brennius and addressed him in this man- 


"What sluggish spirit has possessed 70a, that you can 
bear subjection to Belinus, to whom by parentage and blood 
you are equal ; besides your experience in military affairs, 
which you have gained in several engagements, when you so 
often repulsed Cheulphus, general of the Morini, in his 
invasions of our country, and drove him out of your 
kingdom ? Be no longer bound by a treaty which is a 
reproach to you, but marry the daughter of Elsingius, king 
of the Norwegians, that with his assistance you may recover 
your lost dignity." The young man, inflamed with these and 
the like specious suggestions, hearkened to them, and went 
to Norway, where he married the king's daughter, as his 
flatterers had advised him. 

Chap. II.— Brennius 9 s sea-fight with Guichthlac, king of the Dacians. 
Guichthlac and Brennius's wife are driven ashore and taken bg 

In the meantime his brother, informed of this, was violently 
incensed, that without his leave he had presumed to act thus 
against him. Whereupon he marched into Northumberland, 
and possessed himself of that country and the cities in it, 
which he garrisoned with his own men. Brennius, upon 
notice given him of what his brother had done, prepared a 
fleet to return to Britain with a great army of Norwegians. 
But while he was under sail with a fair wind, he was over- 
taken by Guichthlac, king of the Dacians,* who had pursued 
him. This prince had been deeply in love with the young 
lady that Brennius had married, and out of mere grief and 
vexation for the loss of her, had prepared a fleet to pursue 
Brennius with all expedition. In the sea-fight that happened 
on this occasion, he had the fortune to take the very ship in 
which the lady was, and brought her in among his com- 
panions. But during the engagement, contrary winds arose 
on a sudden, which brought on a storm, and dispersed the 
ships upon different shores : so that the king of the Dacians, 
being driven up and down, after a course of five days, 
arrived with the lady at Northumberland, under dreadful 
apprehensions, as not knowing upon what country this 
unforeseen casualty had thrown him. When this came 
to be known to the country people, they took them and 
* The Danes. 

124 Geoffrey's British history; >xsr& 

carried them to Belinus, who was upon the sea-coast, 
expecting the arrival of his brother. There were with 
Guichthlac's ship three others, one of which had belonged 
to Brennius's fleet. As soon as they had declared to the 
king who they were, he was overjoyed at this happy 
accident, while he was endeavouring to revenge himself 
on his brother. 

Chap. III. — Beliniu in a battle routs Br ennius, who thereupon fleet to 


A few days after appeared Brennius, with his fleet again 
got together, and arrived in Albania ; and having received 
information of the capture of his wife and others, and that 
his brother had seized the kingdom of Northumberland in 
his absence, he sent his ambassadors to him, to demand the 
restitution of his wife and kingdom ; and if he refused them, 
to declare that he would destroy the whole island from sea to 
sea, and kill his brother whenever he could come to an 
engagement with him. On the other hand, Belinus absolutely 
refused to comply with his demands, and assembling together 
the whole power of the island, went into Albania to give him 
battle. Brennius, upon advice that he had suffered a repulse, 
and that his brother was upon his march against him, 
advanced to meet him in a wood called Calaterium, in order 
to attack him. When they were arrived on the field of 
battle, each of them divided his men into several bodies, and 
approaching one another, began the fight. A great part 
of the day was spent in it, because on both sides the bravest 
men were engaged ; and much blood was shed by reason 
of the fury with which they encountered each other. Se 
great was the slaughter, that the wounded fell in heaps, likr 
standing corn cut down by reapers. At last the Britons 
prevailing, the Norwegians fled with their shattered troops 
to their ships, but were pursued by Belinus, and killed 
without mercy. Fifteen thousand men fell in the battle, nor 
were there a thousand of the rest that escaped unhurt. 
Brennius with much difficulty securing one ship, went as 
fortune drove him to the coasts of Gaul ; but the rest that 
attended him, were forced to sculk up and dcwn wherever 
their misfortunes led them. 


Chap. IV. — The king of Daeia, with Brennius's wife, is released out of 

Belinus, after this victory, called a council of his nobility, 
to advise with them what he should do with the king of the 
Dacians, who had sent a message to him out of prison, that 
he would submit himself and the kingdom of Dacia to him, 
and also pay a yearly tribute, if he might have leave to 
depart with his mistress. He offered likewise to confirm this 
covenant with an oath, and the giving of hostages. When 
this proposal was laid before the nobility, they unanimously 
gave their assent that Belinus should grant Guichthlac his 
petition upon the terms offered. Accordingly he did grant 
it, and Guichthlac was released from prison, and returned 
with his mistress into Dacia. 

Chap. Vj— Belinus revives and confirms the Molmutine laws, especially 
about the highways. 

Belinus now finding no body in the kingdom of Britain 
able to make head against him, and being possessed of the 
sovereignty of the whole island from sea to sea, confirmed 
the laws his father had made, and gave command for a 
settled execution of justice through his kingdom. But above 
all things he ordered that cities, and the roads leading to 
them, should enjoy the same privilege of peace that Dunwallo 
had established. But there arose a controversy about the 
roads, because the limits determining them were unknown. 
The king, therefore, willing to clear the law of all 
ambiguities, summoned all the workmen of the island 
together, and commanded them to pave a causeway of 
stone and mortar, which should run the whole length 
of the island, from the sea of Cornwall, to the shores of 
Caithness, and lead directly to the cities that lay along that 
extent. He commanded another to be made over the breadth 
of the kingdom, leading from Menevia, that was situated upon 
the Demetian Sea, to Hamo's Port, and to pass through the 
interjacent cities. Other two he also made obliquely through 
the island, for a passage to the rest of the cities.* He then 
confirmed to them all honours and privileges, and prescribed 

* This seems to be a false account of the Roman roads in Britain* 


a law for the punishment of any injury committed ujK>n them. 
But if any one is curious to know all that he decreed con- 
cerning them, let him read the Molmutine laws, which Gildas 
the historian translated from British into Latin, and king 
Alfred into English. 

Chap. VI. — Brennius, being made duke of the Allobroges returns U 
Britain to fight with his brother. 

While Belinus was thus reigning in peace and tranquillity, 
his brother Brennius, who (as we said before) was driven 
upon the coasts of Gaul, suffered great torments of mind. 
For it was a great affliction to him to be banished from his 
country, and to have no power of returning to retrieve his 
loss. Being ignorant what course to take, he went among 
the princes of Gaul, accompanied only with twelve men ; and 
when he had related his misfortune to every one of them, but 
could procure assistance from none, he went at last to Segi- 
nus, duke of the Allobroges, from whom he had an honour* 
able reception. During his stay here, he contracted such an 
intimacy with the duke, that he became the greatest favourite 
in the court. For in all affairs, both of peace and war, hf 
showed a great capacity, so that this prince loved him with 
a paternal affection. He was besides of a graceful aspect, 
tall and slender in stature, and expert in hunting and fowling, 
as became his princely birth. So great was the friendship 
between them, that the duke resolved to give him his only 
daughter in marriage ; and in case he himself should have 
no male issue, he appointed him and his daughter to succeed 
him in his dukedom of the Allobroges after his death. But 
if he should yet have a son, then he promised his assistance 
to advance him to the kingdom of Britain. Neither was 
this the desire of the duke only, but of all the nobility of 
his court, with whom he had very much ingratiated himself. 
So then without farther delay the marriage was solemnized, 
and the princes of the country paid their homage to him, as 
the successor to the throne. Scarcely was the year at an 
end before the duke died ; and then Brennius took his oppor- 
tunity of engaging those princes of the country firmly in his 
interest, whom before he had obliged with his friendship. 
And this he did by bestowing generously upon them the 


duke's treasure, which had been hoarded up from the times 
of his ancestors. But that which the Allobroges most 
esteemed him for, was his sumptuous entertainments, and 
keeping an open house for all. 

Chap. VTL.— Belinus and Brennius being made friends by the mediation 
of their mother, propose to subdue Gaul. 

When he had thus gained universal affection, he began to 
consult with himself how he might take revenge upon his 
brother Belinus. And when he had signified his intentions 
concerning it to his subjects, they unanimously concurred 
with him, and expressed their readiness to attend him to 
whatever kingdom he pleased to conduct them. He there- 
fore soon raised a vast army, and having entered into a treaty 
with the Gauls for a free passage through their country into 
Britain, fitted out a fleet upon the coast of Neustria, in which 
he set sail, and with a fair wind arrived at the island. Upon 
hearing the rumour of his coming, his brother Belinus, 
accompanied with the whole strength of the kingdom, 
marched out to engage him. But when the two armies were 
drawn out in order of battle, and just ready to begin the 
attack, Conwenna, their mother, who was yet living, ran in 
great haste through the ranks, impatient to see her son, whom 
she had not seen for a long time. As soon, therefore, as she 
had with trembling steps reached the place where he stood, 
she threw her arms about his neck, and in transports kissed 
him ; then uncovering her bosom, she addressed herself to 
him, in words interrupted with sighs, to this effect : — 

" My son, remember these breasts which gave you suck, 
and the womb wherein the Creator of all things formed you, 
and from whence he brought you forth into the world, while 
I endured the greatest anguish. By the pains then which I 
suffered for you, I entreat you to hear my request : pardon 
your brother, and moderate your anger. You ought not to 
revenge yourself upon him who has done you no injury. As 
for what you complain of, — that you were banished your 
country by him, — if you duly consider the result, in strict- 
ness can it be called injustice ? He did not banish you to 
make your condition worse, but forced you to quit a meaner 
that you might attain a higher dignity. At first you en- 
joyed only a part of a kingdom, and that in subjection to your 

J 28 GEO*riuST»S BRITISH HISTORY, [boor in 

brother. As soon as you lost that, you became his equal, by 
gaining the kingdom of the Allobroges. What has he then done, 
but raised you from a vassal to be a king ? Consider farther, 
that the difference between you began not through him, but 
through yourself, who, with the assistance of the king of 
Norway, raised an insurrection against him. w 

Moved by these representations of his mother, he obeyed 
her with a composed mind, and putting off his helmet of his 
own accord, went straight with her to his brother. Belinus, 
seeing him approach with a peaceable countenance, threw 
down his arms, and ran to embrace him ; so that now, with- 
out mere ado, they again became friends ; and disarming th&r 
forces marched with them peaceably together to Trinovantum. 
And here, after consultation what enterprise to undertake, 
they prepared to conduct their confederate army into the 
provinces of Gaul, and reduce that entire country to their 

Chap. VIII. — Belinus and Brennius, after Jive conquest of Gaul, march 
with their army to Rome, 

They accordingly passed over into Gaul the year after, and 
began to lay waste that country. The news of which spread- 
ing through those several nations, all the petty kings of the 
Franks entered into a confederacy, and went out to fight 
against them. But the victory falling to Belinus and Bren- 
nius, the Franks fled with their broken forces ; and the 
Britons and Allobroges, elevated with their success, ceased 
not to pursue them till they had taken their kings, and re- 
duced them to their power. Then fortifying the cities which 
they had taken, in less than a year they brought the whole 
kingdom into subjection. At last, after a reduction of all the 
provinces, they marched with their whole army towards 
Rome, and destroyed the cities and villages as they passed 
through Italy. 

Chap. IX. — The Romans make a covenant with Brennius, but afterwards 
break it 9 for which reason Rome is besieged and taken by Brennius. 

In those days the two consuls of Rome were Gabius and 
Porsena,* to whose care the government of the country was 

* The absurdity of describing Porsena king of Etruria, as one of the 
Roman consuls, must be apparent to every reader. No less evident is it 


committed. When they saw that no nation was able to 
withstand the power of Belinus and Brennius, they came, 
with the consent of the senate to them, to desire peace and 
amity. They likewise offered large presents of gold and 
silver, and to pay a yearly tribute, on condition that they 
might be suffered to enjoy their own in peace. The two 
kings therefore, taking hostages of them, yielded to their 
petition, and drew back their forces into Germany. While 
they were employing their arms in harassing that people, 
the Romans repented of their agreement, and again taking 
courage, went to assist the Germans. This step highly en- 
raged the kings against them, who concerfcd measures how 
to carry on a war with both nations. For the greatness of 
the Italian army was a terror to them. The result of their 
council was, that Belinus with the Britons stayed in Ger- 
many, to engage with the enemy there ; while Brennius and 
his army marched to Rome, to revenge on the Romans their 
breach of treaty. As soon as the Italians perceived their 
design, they quitted the Germans, and hastened to get before 
Brennius, in his march to Rome. Belinus had intelligence 
of it, and speedily marched with his army the same night, 
and possessing himself of a valley through which the enemy 
was to pass, lay hid there in expectation of their coming. 
The next day the Italians came in full march to the place ; 
but when they saw the valley glittering with the enemy's 
armour, they were struck with confusion, thinking Brennius 
and the GalH Senones were there. At this favourable oppor- 
tunity, Belinus on a sudden rushed forth, and fell furiously 
upon them : the Romans on the other hand, thus taken by 
surprise, fled the field, since they neither were armed, nor 
marched in any order. But Belinus gave them no quarter, 
and was only prevented by night coming on, from making a 
total destruction of them. With this victory he went straight 
to Brennius, who had now besieged Rome three days. Then 
joining their armies, they assaulted the city on every side, 
and endeavoured to level the walls : and to strike a greater 
terror into the besieged, erected gibbets before the gates of 
Ihe city, and threatened to hang up the hostages whom they 
oad given, unless they would surrender. But the Romans, 

feat the whole of this fictitious account is founded upon the knovn fact 
Aat Rome was taken by the Gauls commanded by one Brennus. 

130 Geoffrey's British history. imokiii. 

nothing moved by the sufferings of their sons and relations, 
continued inflexible, and resolute to defend themselves. 
They therefore sometimes broke the force of the enemy's en- 
gines, by other engines of their own, sometimes repulsed 
them from the walls with showers of darts. This so incensed 
the two brothers, that they commanded four and twenty of 
their noblest hostages to be hanged in the sight of their 
parents. The Romans, however, were only more hardened 
at the spectacle, and having received a message from Gabius 
and Porsena, their consuls, that they would come the next 
day to their assistance, they resolved to march out of the city, 
and give the enemy battle. Accordingly, just as they were 
ranging their troops in order, the consuls appeared with their 
re-assembled forces, marching up to the attack, and ad- 
vancing in a close body, fell on the Britons and Allobroges by 
surprise, and being joined by the citizens that sallied forth, 
killed no small number. The brothers, in great grief to see 
such destruction made of their fellow soldiers, began to rally 
their men, and breaking in upon the enemy several times, 
forced them to retire. In the end, after the loss of many 
thousands of brave men on both sides, the brothers gained 
the day, and took the city, not however till Gabius was killed 
and Porsena taken prisoner. This done, they divided among 
their men all the hidden treasure of the city. 

Chap. X. — Brenniiu oppresses Italy in a most tyrannical manner. Belt' 
nus returns to Britain. 

After this complete victory, Brennius stayed in Italy, 
where he exercised unheard-of tyranny over the people. 
But the rest of his actions and his death, seeing that they 
are given in the Roman histories, I shall here pass over, to 
avoid prolixity and meddling with what others have treated 
of, which is foreign to my design. But Belinus returned to 
Britain, which he governed during the remainder of his life 
in peace ; he repaired the cities that were falling to ruin, and 
built many new ones. Among the rest he built one upon 
the river IJske, near the sea of the Severn, which was for a 
long time called Caerosc, and was the metropolis of Di- 
metia;* but after the invasion of the Romans it lost its 

* Newport, the principal town of South Wales. 

ch. 11, 12.] DKNMAKK BE-CONQUEKISU. 131 

first name, and was called the City of Legions, firohi the 
Roman legions which used to take up their winter quarters 
in it. He also made a gate of wonderful structure in Trino- 
yantum, upon the bank of the Thames, which the citizens 
call after his name Billingsgate to this day. Over it he built 
a prodigiously large tower, and under it a haven or quay for 
ships. He was a strict observer of justice, and re-established 
his father's laws everywhere throughout the kingdom. In 
his days there was so great an abundance of riches among 
the people, that no age before or after is said to have shown 
the like. At last, when he had finished his days, his body 
was burned, and the ashes put up in a golden urn, which 
they placed at Trinovantum, with wonderful art, on the top 
of the tower abovementioned. 

Chap. XI. — Gurgiunt Brabtruc, succeeding his father Belinus, reduces 
Dacia, which teas trying to shake off his yoke* 

He was succeeded by Gurgiunt Brabtruc, his son, a sober 
prudent prince, who followed the example of his father in all 
his actions, and was a lover of peace and justice. When • 
some neighbouring provinces rebelled against him, inheriting 
with them the bravery of his father, he repressed their inso- 
lence in several fierce battles, and reduced them to a perfect 
subjection. Among many other things it happened, that the 
ting of the Dacians, who paid tribute in his father's time, 
refused not only tribute, but all manner of homage to him. 
This he seriously resented, and passed over. in a fleet to 
Dacia, where he harassed the people with a most cruel war, 
slew their king, and reduced the country to its former 

Chap. XII. — Ireland is given to be inhabited by the Barclenses, who had 
been banished out of Spain, 

At that time, as he was returning home from his conquest 
through the Orkney islands, he found thirty ships full of men 
and women ; and upon his inquiring of them the occasion of 
their coming thither, their leader, named Partholoim, ap- 
proached him in a respectful and submissive manner, and 
desired pardon and peace, telling him that he had been driven 
out of Spain, and was sailing round those seas in quest of 

k 2 


a habitation. He also desired some small part of Britain to 
dwell in, that they might put an end to their tedious wan- 
derings; for it was now a year and a half since he had 
been driven from his country, all of which time he and his 
company had been out at sea. When Gurgiunt Brabtruc 
understood that they came from Spain, and were called Bar- 
clenses, he granted their petition, and sent men with them to 
Ireland, which was then wholly uninhabited, and assigned it 
to them. There they grew up and increased in number, and 
have possessed that island to this very day. Gurgiunt 
Brabtruc after this ended his days in peace, and was buried 
in the City of Legions, which, after his father's death, he 
ornamented with buildings and fortified with walls. 

Chap. XIII. — Guithelin, reigning after Gurgiunt Brabtruc, the Martian 
law is instituted by Martia, a noble woman. 

After him Guithelin wore the crown, which he enjoyed all 
his life, treating his subjects with mildness and affection. 
He had for his wife a noble lady named Martia, accomplished 
in all kinds of learning. Among many other admirable pro- 
ductions of her wit, she was the author of what the Britons 
call the Martian law. This also among other things king 
Alfred translated, and called it in the Saxon tongue, Pa 
Marchitle Lage. Upon the death of Guithelin, the govern- 
ment of the kingdom remained in the hands of this queen 
and her son Sisilius, who was then but seven years old, 
and therefore unfit to take the government upon himself 

Chap. XIV. — Guithelin''* successors in the kingdom. 

For this reason the mother had the sole management of 
affairs committed to her, out of a regard to her great sense 
and judgment. But on her death, Sisilius took the crown 
and government. After him reigned Kimarus his son, to 
whom succeeded Danius his brother. After his death the 
crown came to Morvidus, whom he had by his concubine 
Tangustela. He would have been a prince of extraordinary 
worth, had he not been addicted to immoderate cruelty, so 
far that in his anger he spared nobody, if any weapon were 


at hand. He was of a graceful aspect, extremely liberal, 
and of such vast strength as not to have his match in tho 
whole kingdom. 

Chap. XV. — Morvidus, a most cruel tyrant, after the conquest of the king 
of the Morini f is devoured by a monster. 

In his time a certain king of the Morini* arrived with a 
great force in Northumberland, and began to destroy the 
country. But Morvidus, with all the strength of the king- 
dom, marched out against him, and fought him. In this 
battle he alone did more than the greatest part of his army, 
and after the victory, suffered none of the enemy to escape 
alive. For he commanded them to be brought to him one 
after another, that he might satisfy his cruelty in seeing 
them killed ; and when he grew tired of this, he gave orders 
that they should be flayed alive and burned. During these 
and other monstrous acts of cruelty, an accident happened 
which put a period to his wickedness. There came from the 
coasts of the Irish sea, a most cruel monster, that was con- 
tinually devouring the people upon the sea-coasts. As soon 
as he heard of it, he ventured to go and encounter it alone ; 
when he had in vain spent all his darts upon it, the monster 
rushed upon him, and with open jaws swallowed him up like 
a small fish. 

Chap. XVI — Gorbonian, a most just king of the Britons. 

He had five sons, whereof the eldest, Gorbonian, ascended 
the throne. There was not in his time a greater lover of 
justice and equity, or a more careful ruler of the people. 
The performance of due worship to the gods, and doing jus- 
tice to the common people, were his continual employments. 
Through all the cities of Britain, he repaired the temples of 
the gods, and built many new ones. Li all his days, the 
island abounded with riches, more than all the neighbouring 
countries. For he gave great encouragement to husbandmen 
in their tillage, by protecting them against any injury or op- 
pression of their lords ; and the soldiers he amply rewarded 
with money, so that no one had occasion to do wrong to an* 

* The people who lived near Boulogne. 

134 geoffbet's British history. cbookjo. 

other. Amidst these and many other acts of his innate 
goodness, he paid the debt of nature, and was buried at 

Chap. XVII. — Arthgallo is deposed by the Britons, and is succeeded by 
Elidure, who restores him again his kingdom. 

After him Arthgallo, his brother, was dignified with the 
crown, and in all his actions he was the very reverse of his 
brother. He everywhere endeavoured to depress the nobility, 
and advance the baser sort of the people. He plundered the 
rich, and by those means amassed vast treasures. But the 
nobility, disdaining to bear his tyranny any longer, made an 
insurrection against him, and deposed him ; and then advanced 
Elidure, his brother, who was afterwards surnamed the pious, 
on account of his commiseration to Arthgallo in distress. For 
after five years' possession of the kingdom, as he happened to 
be hunting in the wood Calaterium, he met his brother that 
had been deposed. For he had travelled over several king- 
doms, to desire assistance for the recovery of his lost 
dominions, but had procured none. And being now no 
longer able to bear the poverty to which he was reduced, 
he returned back to Britain, attended only by ten men, with 
a design to repair to those who had been formerly his friends. 
It was at this time, as he was passing through the wood, his 
brother Elidure, who little expected it, got sight of him, and 
forgetting all injuries, ran to him, and affectionately embraced 
him. Now as he had long lamented his brother's affliction, 
he carried him with him to the city Alclud, where he hid 
him in his bed-chamber. After this, he feigned himself 
sick, and sent messengers over the whole kingdom, to 
signify to all his prime nobility that they should come to 
visit him. Accordingly, when they were all met together at 
the city where he lay, he gave orders that they should come 
into his chamber one by one, softly, and without noise : his 
pretence for which was, that their talk would be a disturb- 
ance to his head, should they all crowd in together. Thus, 
in obedience to his commands, and without the least suspicion 
of any design, they entered his house one after another. But 
Elidure had given charge to his servants, who were set ready 
for the purpose, to take each of them as they entered, and cut 
off theii heads, unless they would again submit themselves to 


Arthgallo Lis brother. Thus did he with every one of them 
apart, and compelled them, through fear, to be reconciled to 
Arthgallo. At last the agreement being ratified, Elidure 
conducted Arthgallo to York, where he took the crown from 
his own head, and put it on that of his brother. From this 
act of extraordinary affection to his brother, he obtained the 
surname of Pious. Arthgallo after this reigned ten years, 
and made amends for his former maladministration, by 
pursuing measures of an entirely opposite tendency, in 
depressing the baser sort, and advancing men of good 
birth ; in suffering every one to enjoy his own, and exer- 
cising strict justice towards all men. At last sickness 
seizing him, he died and was buried in the city Kaerleir. 

Chap. XVIII. — Elidure is imprisoned by Peredure, after whose death he 
is a third time advanced to the throne. 

Then Elidure was again advanced to the throne, and restored 
to his former dignity. But while in his government he 
followed the example of his eldest brother Gorbonian, in 
performing all acts of grace ; his two remaining brothers, 
Vigenius and Peredure, raised an army, and made war 
against him, in which they proved victorious ; so that they 
took him prisoner, and shut him up in the tower* at 
Trinovantum, where they placed a guard over him. They 
then divided the kingdom betwixt them ; that part which is 
from the river Humber westward falling to Vigenius's share, 
and the remainder with all Albania to Peredure's. After 
seven years Vigenius died, and so the whole kingdom came 
to Peredure, who from that time governed the people with 
generosity and mildness, so that he even excelled his other 
brothers who had preceded him, nor was any mention now 
made of Elidure. But irresistible fate at last removed him 
suddenly, and so made way for Elidure's release from prison, 
and advancement to the throne the third time ; who finished 
the course of his life in just and virtuous actions, and after 
death left an example of piety to his successors. 

* The tower of London was built or at least repaired and enlarged by 
William Rufus. The story of its having been originally constructed by 
Julius Caesar is an absurd fiction irreconcilable with the Commentaries of 
that general. See William of Malmesbury, p 34 1. 


Chap. XIX. — The names of Elidure's thirty-three successors, 

Eijdure being dead, Gorbonian's son enjoyed the crown, 
and imitated his uncle's wise and prudent government. 
For he abhorred tyranny, and practised justice and mildness 
towards the people, nor did he ever swerve from the rule of 
equity. After him reigned Margan, the son of Arthgallo, 
who, being instructed by the examples of his immediate 
predecessors, held the government in peace. To him 
succeeded Enniaunus, his brother, who took a contrary 
course, and in the sixth year of his reign was deposed, 
for having preferred a tyrannical to a just and legal admin- 
istration. In his room was placed his kinsman Idwallo, the 
son of Vigenius, who, being admonished by Enniaunus's ill 
success, became a strict observer of justice and equity. To 
him succeeded Eunno, the son of Pcredure, whose successor 
was Geruntius, the son of Elidure. After him reigned 
Catellus, his son ; after Catellus, Coillus ; after CoSlus, 
Porrex ; after Porrex, Cherin. This prince had three 
sons, Fulgenius, Eldadus, and Andragius, who all reigned 
one after another. Then succeeded Urianus, the son of 
Andragius ; after whom reigned in order, Eliud, Cledaucus, 
Cletonus, Gurgintius, Merianus, Bleduno, Cap, Oenus, 
Sisilius, Blegabred. This last prince, in singing and 
playing upon musical instruments, excelled all the musicians 
that had been before him, so that he seemed worthy of the 
title of the God of Jesters. After him reigned Arthmail, 
his brother ; after Arthmail, Eldol ; to whom succeeded in 
order, Redion, Rederchius, Samuilpenissel, Pir, Capoir, and 
Cligueillus the son of Capoir, a man prudent and mild in all 
his actions, and who above all things made it his business to 
exercise true justice among his people. 

Chap. XX. — HelVs three sons ; the first of whom, viz, Lud, gives name 
to the city of London, 

Next to him succeeded his son Heli, who reigned forty 
years. He had three sons, Lud, Cassibellaun,* and 
Nennius ; of whom Lud, being the eldest, succeeded to 
the kingdom after his father's death. He became famous 
* The British name of this prince is probably Caswallon. 

«".2fc] LONDON — ITS ORIGIN. 137 

for the building of cities, and for rebuilding the walls of 
Trinovantum, which he also surrounded with innumerable 
towers. He likewise commanded the citizens to build 
houses, and all other kinds of structures in it, so that no city 
in all foreign countries to a great distance round could 
show more beautiful palaces. He was withal a warlike 
man, and very magnificent in his feasts and public enter- 
tainments. And though he had many other cities, yet he 
loved this above them all, and resided in it the greater 
part of the year ; for which reason it was afterwards 
called Kaerlud, and by the corruption of the word, Caer- 
london ; and again by change of languages, in process 
of time, London ; as also by foreigners who arrived here, 
and reduced this country under their subjection, it was 
called Londres. At last, when he was dead, his body 
was buried by the gate which to this time is called in 
the British tongue after his name, Parthlud,* and in the 
Saxon, Ludesgata. He had two sons, Androgeus and 
Tenuantius, who were incapable of governing on account 
of their age : and therefore their uncle Cassibellaun was 
preferred to the kingdom in their room. As soon as he 
was crowned, he began to display his generosity and magnifi- 
cence to such a degree, that his fame reached to distant king- 
doms ; which was the reason that the monarchy of the whole 
kingdom came to be invested in him, and not in his 
nephews. Notwithstanding Cassibellaun, from an impulse 
of piety, would not suffer them to be without their share 
in the kingdom, but assigned a large part of it to them. 
For he bestowed the city of Trinovantum, with the duke- 
dom of Kent, on Androgeus ; and the dukedom of Cornwall 
on Tenuantius. But he himself, as possessing the crown, 
had the sovereignty over them, and all the other princes 
of the island. 

♦ In Latin Porta- Lud. 



Chap. I. — Julius Ccesar invades Britain, 

About this time it happened, (as is found in the Roman 
histories,) that Julius Caesar, having subdued Gaul, came 
to the shore of the Ruteni. And when from thence he 
had got a prospect of the island of Britain, he inquired 
of those about him what country it was,, and what people 
inhabited it. Then fixing his eyes upon the ocean, as 
soon as he was informed of the name of the kingdom 
and the people, he said:* "In truth we. Romans and the 
Britons have the same origin, since both are descended 
from the Trojan race. Our first father, after the de- 
struction of Troy, was iEneas ; theirs, Brutus, whose 
father was Sylvius, the son of Ascanius, the son of 
-ZEneas. But I am deceived,- if they are not very much 
degenerated from us, and know nothing of the art of war, 
since they live separated by the ocean from the whole world. 
They may be easily forced to become our tributaries, and 
subjects to the Roman state. But before the Romans offer 
to invade or assault them, we must send them word that 
they pay tribute as other nations do, and submit themselves 
to the senate ; for fear we should violate the ancient nobility 
of our father Priam us, by shedding the blood of our kins- 
men." All which he accordingly took care to signify in 
writing to Cassibellaun ; who in great indignation returnei 
him an answer in the following letter. 

Chap. II. — Catsibellaunus's letter to Julius Ccesar, 

" Cassibellaun, king of the Britons, to Caius Julius Caesar. 
We cannot but wonder, Caesar, at the avarice of the Roman 
people, since their insatiable thirst for money cannot let us 
alone, though the dangers of the ocean have placed us in a 
manner out of the world ; but they must have the presump- 
tion to covet our substance, which we have hitherto enjoyed 

• It is ridiculous to suppose that Caesar said any thing of the kind, for 
he knew well the slender historical evidence on which the Trojan story 


in quiet. Neither is this indeed sufficient : we must also 
choose subjection and slavery to them, before the enjoyment 
of our native liberty. Your demand, therefore, Caesar, is 
scandalous, since the same vein of nobility flows from JEneas 
in both Britons and Romans, and one and the same chain of 
consanguinity unites us : which ought to be a band of firm 
union and friendship. It was that, which you should have 
demanded of us, and not slavery : we have learned to admit 
of the one, but never to bear the other. And so much have 
we been accustomed to liberty, that we are perfectly ignorant 
what it is to submit to slavery. And if even the gods them- 
selves should attempt to deprive us of our liberty, we would, 
to the utmost of our power, resist them in defence of it. 
Know then, Caesar, that we are ready to fight for that and 
our kingdom, i£, as you threaten, you shall attempt to invade 

Chap. III. — Casar is routed by Cassibellaun. 

On receiving this answer, Caesar made ready his fleet, and 
waited for a fair wind to execute his threats against Cassi- 
bellaun. As soon as the wind stood fair, he hoisted his sails, 
and arrived with his army at the mouth of the river Thames. 
The ships were now just come close to land, when Cassibel- 
laun with all his forces appeared on his march against them, 
and coining to the town of Dorobellum, he consulted with his 
nobility how to drive out the enemy. There was present 
with him Belinus, general of his army, by whose counsel the 
whole kingdom was governed. There were also his two 
nephews, Androgeus, duke of Trinovantum, and Tenuantius, 
duke of Cornwall, together with three inferior kings, Cridious, 
king of Albania, Guerthaeth of Venedotia, and Britael of 
Dimetia, who, as they had encouraged the rest to fight the 
enemy, gave their advice to march directly to Caesar's camp, 
and drive them out of the country before they could take any 
city or town. For if he should possess himself of any forti- 
fied places, they said it would be more difficult to force him 
out, because he would then know whither to make a retreat 
with his men. To this proposal they all agreed, and ad- 
vanced towards the shore where Julius Caesar had pitched 
his camp. And now both armies drew out in order of battle, 
and began the fight, wherein both bows and swords were 

140 Geoffrey's British history. [Boo*rr 

employed. Immediately the wounded fell in heaps on each 
side, and the ground was drenched with the blood of the 
slain, as much as if it had been washed with the sudden 
return of the tide. While the armies were thus engaged, it 
happened that Nennius and Androgens, with the citizens of 
Canterbury and Trinovantum, whom they commanded, had 
the fortune to meet with the troop in which Caesar him*- 
self was present. And upon an assault made, the general's 
cohort was very nearly routed by the Britons falling upon 
them in a close body. During this action, fortune gave 
Nennius an opportunity of encountering Caesar. Nennius 
therefore boldly made up to him, and was in great joy that 
he could but give so much as one blow to so great a man. 
On the other hand, Caesar being aware of his design, stretched 
out his shield to receive him, and with all his might struck 
him upon the helmet with his drawn sword, which he lifted 
up again with an intention to finish his first blow, and make 
it mortal ; but Nennius carefully prevented him with his 
shield, upon which Caesar's sword glancing with great force 
from the helmet, became so firmly fastened therein, that when 
by the intervention of the troops they could no longer con- 
tinue the encounter, the general was not able to draw it out 
again. Nennius, thus becoming master of Caesar's sword, 
threw away his own, and pulling the other out, made haste 
to employ it against the enemy. Whomsoever he struck 
with it, he either cut off his head, or left him wounded with* 
out hopes of recovery. While he was thus exerting himself, 
he was met by Labienus, a tribune, whom he killed in the 
very beginning of the encounter. At last, after the greatest 
part of the day was spent, the Britons poured in so fast, and 
made such vigorous efforts, that by the blessing of God they 
obtained the victory, and Caesar, with his broken forces, 
retired to his camp and fleet. The very same night, as soon 
as he had got his men together again, he went on board his 
fleet, rejoicing that he had the sea for his camp. And upon 
his companions dissuading him from continuing the war any 
longer, he acquiesced in their advice, and returned back to 


Chap. I V. — Nennius, the brother of Cassibellaun, being wounded in 
battle by Casar, dies. 

Cassibellaun, in joy for this triumph, returned solemn 
thanks to God ; and calling the companions of his victory 
together, amply rewarded every one of them, according as 
they had distinguished themselves. On the other hand, he 
was very much oppressed with grief for his brother Nennius, 
who lay mortally wounded, and at the very point of death. 
For Caesar had wounded him in the encounter, and the blow 
which he had given him proved incurable ; so that fifteen 
days after the battle he died, and was buried at Trinovan- 
tum, by the North Gate. His funeral obsequies were per- 
formed with regal pomp, and Caesar's sword put into the 
tomb with him, which he had kept possession of, when struck 
into his shield in the combat. The name of the sword 
was Crocea Mors (Yellow Death), as being mortal to every 
body that was wounded with it. 

Chap. V. — Caesar's inglorious return to Gaul. 

After this flight of Caesar, and his arrival on the Gallic 
coast, the Gauls attempted to rebel and throw off his yoke. 
For they thought he was so much weakened, that his forces 
could be no longer a terror to them. Besides, a general 
report was spread among them, that Cassibellaun was now 
out at sea with a vast fleet to pursue him in his flight ; on 
which account the Gauls, growing still more bold, began to 
think of driving him from their coasts. Caesar, aware of 
their designs, was not willing to engage in a doubtful war 
with a fierce people, but rather chose to go to all their first 
nobility with open treasures, and reconcile them with presents. 
To the common people he promised liberty, to the dispos- 
sessed the restitution of their estates, and to the slaves their 
freedom. Thus he that had insulted them before with the 
fierceness of a lion, and plundered them of all, now, with 
the mildness of a lamb, fawns on them with submissive 
abject speeches, and is glad to restore all again. To these 
acts of meanness he was forced to condescend till he had 
pacified them, and was able to regain his lost power. In the 
meantime not a day passed without his reflecting upon his 
flight, and the victory of the Britons. 


Chap. VI. — Cassibellaun forms a stratagem for sinking C&sar's ships. 

After two years were expired, he prepared to cross the sea 
again, and revenge himself on Cassibellaun, who having in- 
telligence of his design, everywhere fortified his cities, re- 
paired the ruined walls, and placed armed men at all the 
ports. In the river Thames, on which Caesar intended to 
sail up to Trinovantum, he caused iron and leaden stakes, 
each as thick as a man's thigh, to be fixed under the surface 
of the water, that Caesar's ships might founder. He then 
assembled all the forces of the island, and took up his quar- 
ters with them near the sea-coasts, in expectation of the 
enemy's coming. 

Chap. VII. — Casar a second time vanquished by the Britons. 

After he had furnished himself with all necessaries, the 
Roman general embarked with a vast army, eager to revenge 
himself on a people that had defeated him ; in which he un- 
doubtedly would have succeeded, if he could but have brought 
his fleet safe to land ; but this he was not able to do. For 
in sailing up the Thames to Trinovantum, the ships struck 
against the stakes, which so endangered them all on a sudden, 
that many thousands of the men were drowned, while the 
ships being pierced sank into the river. Caesar, upon this, 
employed all his force to shift his sails, and hastened to get 
back again to land. And so those that remained, after a 
narrow escape, went on shore with him. Cassibellaun, who 
was present upon the bank, with joy observed the disaster of 
the drowned, but grieved at the escape of the rest ; and upon 
his giving a signal to his men, made an attack upon the 
Romans, who, notwithstanding the danger they had suffered 
in the river, when landed, bravely withstood the Britons; 
and having no other fence to trust to but their own courage, 
they made no small slaughter ; but yet suffered a greater loss 
themselves, than that which they were able to give the enemy. 
For their number was considerably diminished by their loss 
in the river; whereas the Britons being hourly increased 
with new recruits, were three times their number, and by 
that advantage defeated them. Caesar, seeing he could ne 
longer maintain his ground, fled with a small body of men to 


his sliips, and made the sea his safe retreat ; and as the wind 
stood fair, he hoisted his sails, and steered to the shore of 
the Morini. From thence he repaired to a certain tower, 
which he had built at a place called Odnea, before this second 
expedition into Britain. For he durst not trust the fickle- 
ness of the Gauls, who he feared would fall upon him a 
second time, as we have said already they did before, after 
the first flight he was forced to make before the Britons. 
And on that account he had built this tower for a refuge to 
himself, that he might be able to maintain his ground against 
a rebellious people, if they should make insurrection against 

Chap. VIII. — Evelinus hills Hirelglas. J ndrogeus desires Casar's assist- 
ance against Cassibellaun. 

Cassibellaun, elevated with joy for this second victory, 
published a decree, to summon all the nobility of Britain with 
their wives to Trinovantum, in order to perform solemn 
sacrifices to their tutelary gods who had given them the 
victory over so great a commander. Accordingly, they all 
appeared, and prepared a variety of sacrifices, for which 
there was a great slaughter of cattle. At this solemnity 
they offered forty thousand cows, and a hundred thousand 
sheep, and also fowls of several kinds without number, be- 
sides thirty thousand wild beasts of several kinds. As soon 
as they had performed these solemn honours to their gods, 
they feasted themselves on the remainder, as was usual at 
such sacrifices, and spent the rest of the day and night in 
various plays and sports. Amidst these diversions, it hap- 
pened that two noble youths, whereof one was nephew to the 
king, the other to duke Androgeus, wrestled together, and 
afterwards had a dispute about the victory. The name of 
the king's nephew was Hirelglas, the other's Evelinus. As 
they were reproaching each other, Evelinus snatched up his 
sword and cut off the head of his rival. This sudden disas- 
ter put the whole court into a consternation, upon which the 
king ordered Evelinus to be brought before him, that he 
might be ready to undergo such punishment as the nobility 
should determine, and that the death of Hirelglas might be 
revenged upon him, if he were unjustly killed. Androgeus, 
suspecting the king's » intentions, made answer that he had 


a court of his own, and that whatever should be alleged 
against his own men, ought to be determined there. If, 
therefore, he was resolved to demand justice of Evelinus, he 
might have it at Trinovantum, according to ancient custom. 
Cassibellaun, finding he could not attain his ends, threatened 
Androgeus to destroy his country with fire and sword, if he 
would not comply with his demands. But Androgeus, now 
incensed, scorned all compliance with him. On the other 
hand, Cassibellaun, in a great rage, hastened to make good 
his threats, and ravage the country. This forced Androgeus 
to make use of daily solicitations to the king, by means of 
such as were related to him, or intimate with him, to divert 
Ids rage. But when he found these methods ineffectual, he 
began in earnest to consider how to oppose him, At last, 
when all other hopes failed, he resolved to request assistance 
from Caesar, and wrote a letter to him to this effect : — 

"Androgeus, duke of Trinovantum, to Caius Julius Caesar, 
instead of wishing death as formerly, now wishes health. I 
repent that ever I acted against you, when you made war 
against the king. Had I never been guilty of such exploits, 
you would have vanquished Cassibellaun, who is so swollen 
with pride since his victory, that he is endeavouring to cjrive 
me out of his coasts, who procured him that triumph. Is 
this a fit reward for my services ? I have settled him in an 
inheritance ; and he endeavours to disinherit me. I have a 
second time restored him to the kingdom : and he endeavours 
to destroy me. All this have I done for him in fighting 
against you. I call the gods to witness I have not deserved 
his anger, unless I can be said to deserve it for refusing to 
deliver up my nephew, whom he would have condemned to 
die unjustly. Of which, that you may be better able to 
judge, hear this account of the matter. It happened that for 
joy of the victory we performed solemn honours to our 
tutelary gods, in which after we had finished our sacrifices, 
our youth began to divert themselves with sports. Among 
the rest our two nephews, encouraged by the example of the 
others, entered the lists ; and when mine had got the better, 
the other without any cause was incensed, and just going to 
strike him •, but he avoided the blow, and taking him by the 
hand that held the sword, strove to wrest it from him. In 
this struggle the king's nephew happened to fall upon the 


sword's point, and died upon the spot. When the king was 
informed of it, he commanded me to deliver up the youth, 
that he might be punished for murder. I refused do it ; 
whereupon he invaded my provinces with all his forces, and 
has given me very great disturbance ; flying, therefore, to 
your clemency, I desire your assistance, that by yen I may 
be restored to my dignity, and by me you may gain posses- 
sion of Britain. Let no doubts or suspicion of treachery in 
this matter detain you. Be influenced by the common motive 
of mankind ; let past enmities beget a desire of friendship ; 
and after defeat make you more eager for victory. ,, 

Chap* IX. — Cassibellaun, being put to flight ', and besieged by Casar, 
desires peace. 

Caesar, having read the letter, was advised by his friends 
not to go into Britain upon a bare verbal invitation of the 
duke, unless he would send such hostages as might be for 
his security. Without delay, therefore, Androgeus sent his 
son Scaeva with thirty young noblemen nearly related to 
him. Upon delivery of the hostages, Caesar, relieved from 
his suspicion, reassembled his forces, and with. a fair wind 
arrived at the port of Rutupi. In the meantime Cassibellaun 
had begun to besiege Trinovantum and ravage the country 
towns ; but finding that Caesar was arrived, he raised the 
siege and hastened to meet him. As soon as he entered a 
valley near Dorobernia,* he saw the Roman army preparing 
their camp : for Androgeus had conducted them to this place, 
for the convenience of making a sudden assault upon the city. 
The Romans, seeing the Britons advancing towards them, 
quickly flew to their arms, and ranged themselves in several 
bodies. The Britons also put on their arms, and placed 
themselves in their ranks. But Androgeus with five 
thousand men lay hid in a wood hard by, to be ready to 
assist Caesar, and spring forth on a sudden upon Cassibellaun 
and his party. Both armies now approached to begin the 
fight, some with bows and arrows, some with swords, so that 
much blood was shed on both sides, and the wounded fell 
down like leaves in autumn. While they were thus engaged, 
Androgeus sallied forth from the wood, and fell upon the 
rear of Cassibellaun's army, upon which the hopes of the 
* Canterbury 

146 Geoffrey's British history. [wok it 

battle entirely depended. And now, what with t}ie breach 
which the Romans had made through them just before, what 
with the furious irruption of their own countrymen, they 
were no longer able to stand their ground, but were obliged 
with their broken forces to quit the field. Near the place 
stood a rocky mountain, on the top of which was a thick 
hazel wood. Hither Cassibellaun fled with his men after he 
found himself worsted ; and having climbed up to the top of 
the mountain, bravely defended himself and killed the 
pursuing enemy. For the Roman forces with those of 
Androgeus pursued him to disperse his flying troops, and 
climbing up the mountain after them made many assaults, 
but all to little purpose ; for the rockiness of the mountain 
and great height of its top was a defence to the Britons, and 
the advantage of higher ground gave them an opportunity 
of killing great numbers of the enemy. Caesar hereupon 
besieged the mountain that whole night, which had now 
overtaken them, and shut up all the avenues to it ; intending 
to reduce the king by famine, since he could not do it by 
force of arms. Such was the wonderful valour of the 
British nation in those times, that they were able to put 
the conqueror of the world twice to flight ; and being ready 
to die for the defence of their country and liberty, they, even 
though defeated, withstood him whom the whole world could 
not withstand. Hence Lucan in their praise says of Caesar, 

" Territa quaesitis ostendit terga Britannis." 

With pride he sought the Britons, but when found, 
Dreaded their force, and fled the hostile ground. 

Two days were now passed, when Cassibellaun having 
consumed all his provision, feared famine would oblige him 
to surrender himself prisoner to Caesar. For this reason he 
sent a message to Androgeus to make his peace with Julius, 
lest the honour of the nation might suffer by his being taken 
prisoner. He likewise represented to him, that he did not 
deserve to be pursued to death for the annoyance which he 
had given him. As soon as the messengers had told this to 
Androgeus, he made answer: — "That prince deserves not 
to be loved, who in war is mild as a lamb, but in peace cruel 
as a lion. Ye gods of heaven and earth ! Does my lord 


then condescend to entreat me now, whom before he took 
upon him to command ? Does he desire to be reconciled and 
make his submission to Caesar, of whom Caesar himself had 
before desired peace ? He ought therefore to have con- 
sidered, that he who was able to drive so great a commander 
out of the kingdom, was able also to bring him back again. 
I ought not to have been so unjustly treated, who had then 
done him so much service, as well as now so much injury. 
He must be mad who either injures or reproaches his fellow 
soldiers by whom he defeats the enemy. The victory is not 
the commander's, but theirs who lose their blood in fighting 
for him. However, I will procure him peace if I can, for 
the injury which he has done me is sufficiently revenged 
upon him, since he sues for mercy to me" 

Chap. X. — Androgens'? speech to Cae&ar, 

Androgeus after this went to Caesar, and after a respectful 
salutation addressed him in this manner: — "You have 
sufficiently revenged yourself upon Cassibellaun ; and now 
let clemency take place of vengeance. What more is there 
to be done than that he make his submission and pay tribute 
to the Roman state?" To this Caesar returned him no 
answer: upon which Androgeus said again; "My whole 
engagement with you, Caesar, was only to reduce Britain 
under your power, by the submission of Cassibellaun. 
Behold ! Cassibellaun is now vanquished, and Britain by my 
assistance become subject to you. What further service do 
I ewe you ? God forbid that I should suffer my sovereign, 
who sues to me for peace, and makes me satisfaction for the 
injury which he has done me, to be in prison or in chains. 
It is no easy matter to put Cassibellaun to death while I 
have life ; and if you do not comply with my demand, I 
shall not be ashamed to give him my assistance." Caesar, 
alarmed at these menaces of Androgeus, was forced to 
comply, and entered into peace with Cassibellaun, on 
condition that he should pay a yearly tribute of three 
thousand pounds of silver. So then Julius and Cassibellaun 
from this time became friends, and made presents to each 
other. After this, Caesar wintered in Britain, and the 

L 2 

148 Geoffrey's British history. [book it. 

following spring returned into Gaul.* At length he 
assembled all his forces, and marched towards Rome 
against Pompey. 

• Chap. XI. — Tenuantius is made king of Britain after Cassibellaun. 

After seven years had expired, Cassibellaun died and was 
buried at York. He was succeeded by Tenuantius, duke of 
Cornwall, and brother of Androgeus : for Androgeus was 
gone to Rome with Caesar. Tenuantius therefore, now 
wearing the crown, governed the kingdom with diligence. 
He was a warlike man, and a strict observer of justice. 
After him Kymbelinus his son was advanced to the throne, 
being a great soldier, and brought up by Augustus Caesar. 
He had contracted so great a friendship with the Romans, 
that he freely paid them tribute when he might have very 

* u Caesar's expedition against the Britons was of singular boldness ; for 
he was the first who proceeded with a fleet to the Western Ocean, and 
sailed over the Atlantic Sea, conducting an army to war; and being 
desirous of possessing an island, for its size hardly believed in, and giving 
occasion for much controversy to various writers, as if a name and a tale 
had been invented of a place which never had been nor was yet in 
existence, he advanced the dominion of the Romans beyond the limits 
of the known world ; and having twice sailed over to the island from the 
opposite coast of Gaul, and having rather worsted his enemies in many 
battles, than advantaged his own soldiers, for there was nothing worth 
taking from men who had a bare subsistence and were poor, he terminated 
the war not in the way he wished ; but taking hostages from the king, and 
appointing tributes, he departed from the island."— Plutarch. This is the 
language of a writer favourable to the reputation of Caesar, and may teach 
us how worthless are the old British or rather Welsh legends in comparison 
with the classic historians. 

But the classic historians deal sometimes in fables. Witness the 
following quotation from Polyaenus : 

" Caesar attempting to pass a large river in Britain, Cassolaulus, king of 
the Britons, obstructed him with many horsemen and chariots. Caesar had 
in his train a very large elephant, an animal hitherto unseen by the Britons. 
Having armed mm with scales of iron, and put a large tower upon him, and 
placed therein archers and slingers, he ordered them to enter the stream. 
The Britons were amazed at beholding a beast till then unseen, and of an 
extraordinary nature. As to the horses, what need to write of them ! since 
even among the Greeks, horses fly on seeing elephants even without harness, 
but thus towered and armed, and casting darts and slinging, they could not 
endure even to look upon the sight. The Britons therefore fled with thei? 
horses and chariots. Thus the Romans passed the river without molesta- 
tion, having terrified the enemy by a single animal" 

«&i4is. birth of christ 149 

well refused it. In his days was born our Lord Jesus Christ, 
by whose precious blood mankind was redeemed from the 
devil, under whom they had been before enslaved. 

Chap. XII. — Upon Guiderius's refuting to pay tribute to the Romans t 
Claudius Casar invades Britain, 

Kymbelintjs, when he had governed Britain ten years, begat 
two sons, the elder named Guiderius, the other Arviragus. 
After his death the government fell to Guiderius. This 
prince refused to pay tribute to the Romans ; for which reason 
Claudius, who was now emperor, marched against him. He 
was 'attended in this expedition by the commander of his 
army, who was called in the British tongue, Leuis Hamo, by 
whose advice the following war was to be carried on. This 
man,/ therefore, arriving at the city of Portcestre, [Portches- 
ter,] began to block up the gates with a wall, and denied the 
citizens all liberty of passing out. For his design was either 
to reduce them to subjection by famine, or kill them without 

Chap. XIII. — Leuis Hamo, a Roman, by wicked treachery kills Guiderius. 

Guiderius, upon the news of Claudius's coming, assembled 
all the soldiery of the kingdom, and went to meet the Roman 
army. In the battle that ensued, he began the assault with 
great eagerness, and did more execution with his own sword 
than the greater part of his army. Claudius was now on 
the point of retreating to his ships, and the Romans very 
nearly routed, when the crafty Hamo, throwing aside his own 
armour, put on that of the Britons, and as a Briton fought 
against his own men. Then he exhorted the Britons to a 
vigorous assault, promising them a speedy victory. For he 
had learned their language and manners, having been edu- 
cated among the British hostages at Rome. By these means 
he approached by little and little to the king, and seizing a 
favourable opportunity, stabbed him while under no appre- 
hension of danger, and then escaped through the enemy's 
ranks to return to his men with the news of his detestable 
exploit. But Arviragus, his brother, seeing him killed, 
forthwith put off his own and put on his brother's habiliments, 
and, as if he had been Guiderius himself, encouraged the 
Britons to stand their ground. Accordingly, as they knew 

150 Geoffrey^ British history. [book *v. 

nothing of the king's disaster, they made a vigorous resist- 
ance, fought courageously, and killed no small number of th£ 
enemy. At last the Romans gave ground, and dividing 
themselves into two bodies, basely quitted the field. Caesar 
with one part, to secure himself, retired to his ships ; but 
Hamo fled to the woods, because he had not time to get 
to the ships. Arviragus, therefore, thinking that Claudius 
fled along with him, pursued him with all speed, and did not 
leave off harassing him from place to place, till he overtook 
him upon a part of the sea-coast, which, from the name of 
Hamo, is now called Southampton. There was at the same 
place a convenient haven for ships, and some merchant-ships 
at anchor. And just as Hamo was attempting to get on 
board them, Arviragus came upon him unawares, and forth- 
with killed him. And ever since that time the haven has 
been called Hamo's port. 

Chap. XIV. — Arviragus, king of Britain, makes his submission to Clau- 
dius, who with his assistance conquers the Orkney islands. 

In the meantime, Claudius, with his remaining forces, 
assaulted the city above mentioned, which was then called 
Kaerperis, now Portcestre, and presently levelled the walls, 
and having reduced the citizens to subjection, went after 
Arviragus, who had entered Winchester. Afterwards he 
besieged that city, and employed a variety of engines against 
it. Arviragus, seeing himself in these straits, called his 
troops together, and opened the gates, to march out and give 
him battle. But just as he was ready to begin the attack, 
Claudius, who feared the boldness of the king, and the 
bravery of the Britons, sent a message to him with a propo- 
sal of peace ; choosing rather to reduce them by wisdom and 
policy, than run the hazard of a battle. To this purpose he 
offered a reconciliation with him, and promised to give him 
his daughter, if he would only acknowledge the kingdom of 
Britain subject to the Roman state. The nobility hereupon 
persuaded him to lay aside thoughts of war, and be content 
with Claudius's promise ; representing to him at the same time, 
that it was no disgrace to be suty'ect to the Romans, who en- 
joyed the empire of the whole world. By these and many 
other arguments he was prevailed upon to hearken to their 
advice, and make his submission to Casar. After which 


Claudius sent to Rome for his daughter, and then, with the 
assistance of Arviragus, reduced the Orkney and the provin^ 
cial islands to his power.* 

Chap. XV. — Claudius gives hit daughter Genuissafor a xctfe to ArvWa- 
gus, and returns to Home. 

As soon as the winter was over, those that were sent for 
Claudius's daughter returned with her, and presented her to 
her father. The damsel's name was Genuissa, and so great 
was her beauty, that it raised the admiration of all that saw 
her. After her marriage with the king, she gained so great 
an ascendant over his affections, that he in a manner valued 
nothing but her alone : insomuch that he was desirous to 
have the place honoured where the nuptials were solemnized, 
and moved Claudius to build a city upon it, for a monument 

* Claudius never was in Orkney; he spent only sixteen days altogether 
in Britain. Of certain sacred isles in the neighbourhood of Britain, Plu- 
tarch gives the following account, showing how little the Greeks knew of 
Britain eighty years after the reign of Claudius : 

u A short time before Callistratus celebrated the Pythian games, two hdly 
men from the opposite parts of the habitable earth came to us at Delphos, 
Demetrius the grammarian from Britain, returning home to Tarsus, and 

Cleombrotus the Lacedemonian But Demetrius said, that there are 

many desert islands scattered around Britain, some of which have the name 
of being the islands of genii and heroes : that he had been sent by the 
emperor, for the sake of describing and viewing them, to that which lay 
nearest to the desert isles, and which had but few inhabitants ; all of whom 
were esteemed by the Britons sacred and inviolable. Very soon after his 
arrival there was great turbulence in the air, and many portentous storms ; 
the winds became tempestuous, and fiery whirlwinds rushed forth. When 
these ceased, the islanders said that the departure of some one of the 
superior genii had taken place. For as a light when burning, say they, has 
nothing disagreeable, but when extinguished is offensive to many ; so like- 
wise lofty spirits afford an illumination benignant and mild, but their ex- 
tinction and destruction frequently, as at the present moment, excite winds 
and storms, and often infect the atmosphere with pestilential evils. More- 
over, that there was one island there, wherein Saturn was confined by 
Briareus in sleep : for that sleep had been devised for his bonds ; and that 
around him were many genii as his companions and attendants. 

" Asclepiades asserts, that after their thirtieth year the Ethiopians, being 
scorched by the sun, quickly grow old, in consequence of their bodies being 
overheated ; whereas in Britain they advance to an hundred and twenty 
years, in consequence of the coldness of the 'place and their retaining 
within themselves the vital heat : for the bodies of the Ethiopians are more 
slender from their being relaxed by the sun, whereas the inhabitants of ths 
Borth are thick set in their persons, and on this account longer lived." 


to posterity of so great and happy a marriage. Claudius 
consented to it, and commanded a city to be built, which after 
his name is called Kaerglou, that is Gloucester, to this day, 
and is situated on the confines of Dimetia and Loegria, upon 
the banks of the Severn. But some say that it derived its 
name from Duke Gloius, a son that was born to Claudius 
there, and to whom, after the death of Arviragus, fell the 
dukedom of Dimetia. The city being finished, and the island 
now enjoying peace, Claudius returned to Rome, leaving to 
Arviragus the government of the British islands. At the 
same time the apostle Peter founded the Church of Antioch ; 
and afterwards coming to Rome, was bishop there, and sent 
Mark, the evangelist, into Egypt to preach the gospel which 
he had written. 

Chap. XVI. — Arviragus revolting from the Romans, Vespasian is sent 
into Britain, 

After the departure of Claudius, Arviragus began to show 
his wisdom and courage, to rebuild cities and towns, and to 
exercise so great authority over his own people, that he be- 
came a terror to the kings of remote countries. But this so 
elevated him with pride that he despised the Roman power, 
disdained any longer subjection to the senate, and assumed 
to himself the sole authority in every thing. Upon this news 
Vespasian was sent by Claudius to procure a reconciliation 
with Arviragus, or to reduce him to the subjection of the 
Romans. When, therefore, Vespasian arrived at the haven 
of Rutupi,* Arviragus met him, and prevented his entering 
the port. For he brought so great an army along with him, 
that the Romans, for fear of his falling upon them, durst not 
come ashore. Vespasian upon this withdrew from that port, 
and shifting his sails arrived at the shore of Totness. As 
soon as he was landed, he marched directly to- besiege Kaer- 
penhuelgoit, now Exeter; and after lying before it seven 
days, was overtaken by Arviragus and his army, who gave 
him battle. That day great destruction was made in both 
armies, but neither got the victory. The next morning, by 
the mediation of queen Genuissa, the two leaders were made 
friends, and sent their men over to Ireland. As soon as 
winter was over, Vespasian returned to Rome, but Am 
* Richborough* 


ragus continued still in Britain. Afterwards, when he grew 
old, he began to show much respect to the senate, and to 
govern his kingdom in peace and tranquillity. He confirmed 
the old laws of his ancestors, and enacted some new ones, 
and made very ample presents to all persons of merit. So 
that his fame spread over all Europe, and he was both loved 
and feared by the Romans, and became the subject of their 
discourse more than any king in his time. Hence Juvenal 
relates how a certain blind man, speaking of a turbot that 
was taken, said : — 

" Regem aliquem capies, aut de temOne Britanno 
Decidet Arviragus."* 

Arviragus shall from his chariot fall, 

Or thee his lord some captive king shall call. 

In war none was more fierce than he, in peace none more 
mild, none more pleasing, or in his presents more magnificent. 
When he had finished his course of life, he was buried at 
Gloucester, in a certain temple which he had built and 
dedicated to the honour of Claudius. f 

Chap. XVII. — Rodric, leader of the Pick, is vanquished by Marius. 

His son Marius, a man of admirable prudence and wisdom, 
succeeded him in the kingdom. In his reign a certain king 
of the Picts, named Rodric, came from Scythia with a great 
fleet, and arrived in the north part of Britain, which is called 
Albania, and began to ravage that country. Marius there- 
fore raising an army went in quest of him, and killad him in 
battle, and gained the victory ; for a monument of which he 
set up a stone in the province, which from his name was 
afterwards called Westmoreland, where there is an inscription 
retaining his memory to this day. He gave the conquered 
people that came with Rodric liberty to inhabit that part 
of Albania which is called Caithness, that had been a long 
time desert and uncultivated. And as they had no wives, 

* Juven. Sat. iv. 26. 

f Although this narrative of the reign of Arviragus is purely imagina- 
tive, yet it is not impossible that Gloucester may have been a station 
1 by Claudius, and hence called Claudii Castrum, or Caer Glau. 


they desired to hare the daughters and kinswomen of the 
Britons. But the Britons refused; disdaining to unite with 
such a people. Having suffered a repulse here, they sailed 
over into Ireland, and married the women of that country, 
and by their offspring increased their number. But let thus 
much suffice concerning them, since I do not propose to write 
the history of this people, or of the Scots, who derived their 
original from them and the Irish. Marius, after he had 
settled the island in perfect peace, began to love the Roman 
people, paying the tribute that was demanded of him ; and 
in imitation of his father's example practised justice, law, 
peace, and every thing that was honourable in his kingdom. 

Chap. XVIII. — Marius dying, is succeeded by Chillus. 

As soon as he had ended his days, his son CoiUus took upon 
him the government of the kingdom. He had been brought 
up from his infancy at Rome, and having been taught the 
Roman manners, had contracted a most strict amity with 
them. He likewise paid them tribute, and declined making 
them any opposition, because he saw the whole world subject 
to them, and that no town or country was out of the limits 
of their power. By paying therefore what was required 
of him, he enjoyed his kingdom in peace : and no king ever 
showed greater respect to his nobility, not only permitting 
them to enjoy their own with quiet, but also binding them to 
him by his continual bounty and munificence. 

Chap. XIX. — Lucius is the first British king that embraces the Christian 
faith, together with his people. 

Coillus had but one son, named Lucius, who, obtaining the 
crown after his father's decease, imitated all his acts of good- 
ness, and seemed to his people to be no other than Coillus 
himself revived. As he had made so good a beginning, he 
was willing to make a better end : for which purpose he sent 
letters to pope Eleutherius, desiring to be instructed by him 
in the Christian religion. For the miracles which Christ's 
disciples performed in several nations wrought a conviction 
in his mind ; so that being inflamed with an ardent love of 
the true faith, he obtained the accomplishment of his pious 
request. For that holy pope, upon receipt of this devout, 10, LUCIUS EMBRACES CHRISTIANITY. IBS 

petition, sent to him two most religious doctors, Fagamts 
and Duvanus, who, after they had preached concerning the 
incarnation of the Word of God, administered baptism to 
him, and made him a proselyte to the Christian faith. 
Immediately upon this, people from all countries, assembling 
together, followed the lung's example, and being washed in 
the same holy laver, were made partakers of the kingdom of 
heaven. The holy doctors, after they had almost extinguished 
paganism over the whole island, dedicated the temples, that 
had been founded in honour of many gods, to the one only 
God .and his saints, and filled them with congregations 
of Christians. There were then in Britain eight and twenty 
flamens, as also three archflamens, to whose jurisdiction the 
other judges and enthusiasts were subject. These also, 
according to the apostolic command, they delivered from 
idolatry, and where they were flamens made them bishops, 
where archflamens, archbishops. The seats of the arch- 
flamens were at the three noblest cities, viz. London,* York, 
and the City of Legions, which its old walls and buildings 
show to have been situated upon the river Uske in^ Glamor- 
ganshire. To these three, now purified from superstition, 
were made subject twenty-eight bishops, with their dioceses. 
To the metropolitan of York were subject Deira and Albania, 
which the great river Humber divides from Loegria. To the 
metropolitan of London were subject Loegria and Cornwall. 
These two provinces the Severn divides from Kambria or 
Wales, which was subject to the City of Legions. 

Chap. XX. — Fagamts and Duvanus give an account at Rome, of what 
they had done in Britain, 

At last, when they had made an entire reformation here, the 
two prelates returned to Rome, and desired the pope to 
confirm what they had done. As soon as they had obtained 
a confirmation, they returned again to Britain, accompanied 
with many others, by whose doctrine the British nation was 
in a short time strengthened in the faith. Their names and 
acts are recorded in a book which Gildas wrote concerning 

* This fabulous story of the flamens and archflamens, and of the sub- 
stitution of bishops and archbishops in their places, led, in later years, to 
i disputes between the bishops of Canterbury York, and London. 


166 GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH. [book r. ch. 1. 

the victory of Aurelius Ambrosius ; and what is delivered 
in so bright a treatise, needs not to be repeated here in a 
meaner style.* 


Chap. I. — Lucius dies without issue, and is a benefactor to the churches. 

In the meantime, the glorious king Lucius highly rejoiced 
at the great progress which the true faith and worship had 
made in his kingdom, and permitted the possessions and 
territories which formerly belonged to the temples of the 
gods, to be converted to a better use, and appropriated to 
Christian churches. And because a greater honour was due 
to them than to the others, he made large additions of lands 
and manor-houses, and all kinds of privileges to them. 
Amidst these and other acts of his great piety, he departed 
this life in the city of Gloucester, and was honourably buried 
in the cathedral church, in the hundred and fifty-sixth year 
after our Lord's incarnation. He had no issue to succeed 
him, so that after his decease there arose a dissension 
among the Britons, and the Roman power was much 

Chap. II. — Sever us, a senator t subdues part of Britain : his war with 
Ful genius. 

When this news was brought to Rome, the senate despatched 
Severus, a senator, with two legions, to reduce the country 
to subjection. As soon as he was arrived, he came to a 
battle with the Britons, part of whom he obliged to submit 
to him, and the other part which he could not subdue he 
endeavoured to distress in several cruel engagements, and 
forced them to fly beyond Deira into Albania. Notwithstand- 
ing which they opposed him with all their might under the 

* This treatise has not been preserved, and most probably never was 
written. The only information which has come down to us about king 
Lucius, at all likely to be of an authentic character, is a brief notice of him 
in Bede's Ecclesiastical History, p. 10. 

A.D.207.] DEATH OP SEVERUS. 157 

conduct of Fulgenius, and often made great slaughter both 
of their own countrymen and of the Romans. For Fulgenius, 
brought to his assistance all the people of the islands that he 
could find, and so frequently gained the victory. The empe- 
ror, not being able to resist the irruptions which he made, 
commanded a wall to be built between Deira and Albania, to 
hinder his excursions upon them ; they accordingly made 
one at the common charge from sea to sea, which for a long 
time hindered the approach of the enemy. But Fulgenius, 
when he was unable to make any longer resistance, made a 
voyage into Scythia, to desire the assistance of the Picts 
towards his restoration. And when he had got together all 
the forces of that country, he returned with a great fleet into 
Britain, and besieged York. Upon this news being spread 
through the country, the greatest part of the Britons deserted 
Severus, and went over to Fulgenius. However this did not 
make Severus desist from his enterprise : but calling together 
the Romans, and the rest of the Britons that adhered to him, 
he marched to the siege, and fought with Fulgenius ; but the 
engagement proving very sharp, he was killed with many of 
his followers : Fulgenius also was mortally wounded. After- 
wards Severus was buried at York, which city was taken by 
his legions.* He left two sons, Bassianus and Geta, whereof 

* The following is an extract from the true account of the expedition of 
Severus into Britain taken from Herodian : 

* [Severus] received letters from the praefect of Britain relating that the 
barbarians there were in a state of insurrection, overrunning the country, 
driving off booty, and laying every thing waste ; so that for the defence of 
the island there was need either of greater force, or of the presence of the 
emperor himself. Severus heard this with pleasure, by nature a lover of 
glory, and anxious, after his victories in the east and north and his conse- 
quent titles, to obtain a trophy from the Britons : moreover, willing to 
withdraw his sons from Rome, that they might grow up in the discipline and 
sobriety of a military life, far removed from the blandishments and luxury 
prevalent in Rome, he orders an expedition against Britain, although now old 
and labouring under an arthritic affection ; but as to his mind, he was vigo- 
rous beyond any youth. For the most part he performed the march carried 
in a litter, nor did he ever continue long in one place. Having completed 
the journey with his sons, and crossed over the sea more quickly than could 
be described or expected, he advanced against the Britons, and having 
drawn together his soldiers from all sides, and concentrated a vast force, he 
prepared for the war. 

" The Britons, much struck with the sudden arrival of the emperor, and 
learning that such a mighty force was collected against them, sent ambuK 

1 08 GEOFFBBY'S BRITISH HISTORY. Lboox r. cb. & 

Greta had a Roman for his mother, but Baasianus* a Briton. 
Therefore upon the death of their father the Romans made 
Geta king, favouring him on account of his being, a Roman 
by both his parents : but the Britons rejected him, and 
advanced Baasianus, as being their countryman by his 
mother's side. This proved the occasion of a battle between 
the two brothers, in which Geta was killed ; and so BassL-< 
anus obtained the sovereignty. 

Chap. III.— Caraimus advanced to be king of Britain. 

At. that time there was in Britain one Carausius, a young 
man of mean birth, who, having given proof of his bravery 
sadors, Bued for peace, and were willing to excuse their past transgressions. 
But Severus, purposely seeking delay that he might not again return to 
Rome without his object, and, moreover, desirous to obtain from Britain 
a victory and a title, sent away their ambassadors without effecting 
their purpose, and prepared all things for the contest. He more espe- 
cially endeavoured to render the marshy places stable by means of 
causeways, that his soldiers, treading with safety, might easily pass them, 
and, having firm footing, fight to advantage. For manyparts of the British 
country, being constantly flooded by the tides of the ocean, become marshy. 
In these the natives are accustomed to swim and traverse about being im- 
mersed as high as their waists : for going naked as to the greater part of 
their bodies, they contemn the mud. Indeed they know not the use of 
clothing, but encircle their loins and necks with iron ; deeming this an 
ornament and an evidence of opulence, in like manner as other barbarians 
esteem gold. But they puncture their bodies with pictured forms of every 
sort of animals ; on which account they wear no clothing, lest they should 
hide the figures on their body. They are a most warlike and sanguinary 
race, carrying only a small shield and a spear, and a sword girded to their 
naked bodies. Of a breast-plate or an helmet they know not the use, 
esteeming them an impediment to their progress through the marshes ; 
from the vapours and exhalations of which the atmosphere in that country 
always appears dense. 

u Against such things, therefore, Severus prepared whatever could be 
serviceable to the Roman army, but hurtful and detrimental to the designs 
of the barbarians. And when every thing appeared to him sufficiently 
arranged for the war, leaving his younger son, named Geta, in that part of 
the island which was subjugated to the Romans, for the purpose of adminis- 
tering justice, and directing other civil matters of the government, giving him 
as assessors the more aged of his friends ; and taking Antoninus with him- 
self, he led the way against the barbarians. His army having passed be- 
yond the rivers and fortresses which defended the Roman territory, there 
were frequent attacks and skirmishes and retreats on the side of the barba- 
rians. To these, indeed, flight was an easy matter, and they lay hidden 
in the thickets and marshes through their local knowledge ; all which f " 
\ adverse to the Romans, served to protract the war." 
* Otherwise called Caracalla. 


in many engagements, went to Rome, and solicited the 
senate for leave to defend with a fleet the maritime coasts of 
Britain, from the incursions of barbarians ; which if they 
would grant him, he promised to do more for the honour and 
service of the commonwealth, than by delivering up to thenx 
the kingdom of Britain. The senate, deluded by his specious* 
promises, granted him his request, and so, with his commis- 
sion sealed, he returned to Britain. Then by wicked prac- 
tices getting a fleet togetW, he enlisted into his service a 
body of the bravest youlhs, and putting out to sea, sailed 
round the whole kingdom, causing very great disturbance 
among the people. In the meantime he invaded the adjacent 
islands, where he destroyed all before him, countries, cities, 
and towns, and plundered the inhabitants of all they had. 
By this conduct he encouraged all manner of dissolute fellows 
to flock to him in hope of plunder, and in a very short time 
was attended by an army which no neighbouring prince was 
able to oppose. This made him. begin to swell with pride, 
and to propose to the Britons, that they should make him 
their king ; for which consideration he promised to kill and 
banish the Romans, and free the whole island from the inva- 
sions of barbarous nations. Accordingly obtaining his re- 
quest, he fell upon Bassianus and killed him, and then took 
upon him the government of the kingdom. For Bassianus 
was betrayed by the Picts, whom Fulgenius his mother's 
brother had brought with him into Britain, and who being 
corrupted by the promises and presents of Carausius, instead 
of assisting Bassianus, deserted him in the very battle, and 
fell upon his men ; so that the rest were put into a consterna- 
tion, and not knowing their friends from their foes, quickly 
gave ground, and left the victory to Carausius. Then he, to 
reward the Picts for this success, gave them a habitation 
in Albania, where they continued afterwards mixed with 
the Britons. 

Chap. IV. — Allectus kills Carausius, but is afterwards himself slain in 
flight by Asclepiodotus. 

"When the news of these proceedings of Carausius arrived 
at Rome, the senate commissioned* Allectus, with throe 

* Roman history must have been very little known in England, when 
inch a statement as this could be put forth as true. Eutropiua [ix. 22] 

160 GEOFFBEY*S BRITISH HISTORY, [book r. ch. 4 

legions, to kill the tyrant, and restore the kingdom of Britain 
to the Roman power. No sooner was he arrived, than he 
fought with Carausius, killed him, and took upon himself the 
government. After which he miserably oppressed the 
Britons, for having deserted the commonwealth, and adhered 
to Carausius. But the Britons, not enduring this, advanced 
Asclepiodotus, duke of Cornwall, to be their king, and then 
unanimously marched against Allectus, and challenged him 
to battle. He was then at London, celebrating a feast to his 
tutelary gods ; but being informed of the coming of Ascle- 
piodotus, he quitted the sacrifice, and went out with all his 
forces to meet him, and engaged with him in a sharp fight 
But Asclepiodotus had the advantage, and dispersed and put 
to flight AHectus's troops, and in the pursuit killed many 
thousands, as also king Allectus himself. After this victory, 
Livius Gallus, the colleague of Allectus, assembled the rest 
of the Romans, shut the gates of the city, and placed his men 
in the towers and other fortifications, thinking by these 
means either to make a stand against Asclepiodotus, or at 
least to avoid imminent death. But Asclepiodotus seeing 
this laid siege to the city, and sent word to all the dukes of 
Britain, that he had killed Allectus with a great number of 
his men, and was besieging Gallus and the rest of the Romans 
in London ; and therefore earnestly entreated them to hasten 
to his assistance, representing to them withal, how easy it 
was to extirpate the whole race of the Romans out of Britain, 
provided they would all join their forces against the besieged. 
At this summons came the Dimetians, Venedotians, Deirans, 
Albanians, and all others of the British race. And as soon 
as they appeared before the duke, he commanded vast num- 
bers of engines to be made, to beat down the walls of the 
city. Accordingly every one readily executed his orders 
with great bravery, and made a violent assault upon the city, 
the walls of which were in a very short time battered down, 
and a passage made into it. After these preparations, they 
began a bloody assault upon the Romans, who, seeing their 
fellow soldiers falling before them without intermission, per- 
suaded Gallus to offer a surrender on the terms of having 
quarter granted them, and leave to depart : for they were 

■ays " Carausius, after seven years, was murdered by his companion Allec* 
tui, who after him held the government three years longer." 


now all killed except one legion, which still held out. Gallus 
consented to the proposal, and accordingly surrendered him* 
self and his men to Asclepiodotus, who was disposed to give 
them quarter ; but he was prevented by a body of Venedo- 
tians, who rushed upon them, and the same day cut off all 
their heads upon a brook within the city, which from the 
name of the commander was afterwards called in the British 
tongue Nautgallim, and in the Saxon Gallembourne. 

Chap. V. — Asclepiodotus obtains the crown. Diocletian's massacre of the 
Christians in Britain. 

The Romans being thus defeated, Asclepiodotus,* with the 
consent of the people, placed the crown upon his own head, 
and governed the country in justice and peace ten years, and 
curbed the insolence and outrages committed by plunderers 
and robbers. In his days began the persecution of the empe- 
ror Diocletian ; and Christianity, which from the time of 
king Lucius had continued fixed and undisturbed, was almost 
abolished over the whole island. This was principally owing 
to Maximianus Herculius, general of that tyrant's army, by 
whose command all the churches were pulled down, and all 
the copies of the Holy Scriptures that could be found, 
were burned in the public markets. The priests also, with 
the believers under their care, were put to death, and with 
emulation pressed in crowds together for a speedy passage to 
the joys of heaven, as their proper dwelling place. God 
therefore magnified his goodness to us, forasmuch as he did, 
in that time of persecution, of his mere grace, light up the 
bright lamps of the holy martyrs, to prevent the spreading of 
gross darkness over the people of Britain ; whose sepulchres 
and places of suffering might have been a means of inflaming 
our minds with the greatest fervency of divine love, had not 
the deplorable impiety of barbarians deprived us of them. 
Among others of both sexes who continued firm in the army 
of Christ, and suffered, were Alban of Verulam, and Julius 
and Aaron, both of the City of Legions. Of these, Alban, 
out of the fervour of his charity, when his confessor, Amphi- 

* Asclepiodotus is hardly mentioned in the authentic history of this 
period. He was praefectus pratorio under Constantius Chlorus, who was 
the general that really recovered Britain from Allectus. 

162 Geoffrey's British history. [hook t. cm. & 

balus, was pursued by the persecutors, and just ready to be 
apprehended, first hid him in his house, and then offered 
himself to die for him ; imitating in this Christ himself, who 
laid down his life for his sheep. The other two, after being 
torn limb from limb, in a manner unheard of, received the 
crown of martyrdom, and were elevated up to the gates of 
the heavenly Jerusalem. 

Chap. VI. — An insurrection against Asclepiodotus, by Coel, whose 
daughter Helena Constantius marries* 

In the meantime Coel,* duke of Kaercolvin or Colchester, 
made an insurrection against king Asclepiodotus, and in a 
pitched battle killed him, and took possession of his crown. 
The senate, hearing this, rejoiced at the king's death, who 
had given such disturbance to the Roman power : and reflect- 
ing on the damage which they had sustained by the loss of 
this kingdom, they sent Constantius the senator, a man of 
prudence and courage, who had reduced Spain under their 
subjection, and who was above all the rest industrious to 
promote the good of the commonwealth. Coel, having in- 
formation of his coming, was afraid to engage him in battle, 
on account of a report, that no king was able to stand before 
liim.. Therefore, as soon as Constantius was arrived at the 
island, Coel sent ambassadors to him with offers of peace and 
submission, on condition that he should enjoy the kingdom 
of Britain, and pay no more than the usual tribute to the 
Roman state. Constantius consented to this proposal, and so, 
upon their giving hostages, peace was confirmed between 
them. The month after Coel was seized with a very great 
sickness, of which he died within eight days. After his 
decease, Constantius himself was crowned, and married the 
-^ daughter of Coel, whose name was Helena. She surpassed 
all the ladies of the country in beauty, as she did all others 
of the time in her skill in music and the liberal arts. Her 
father had no other issue to succeed him on the throne ; for 
which reason he was very careful about her education, that 
she might be better qualified to govern the kingdom. Con- 
stantius, therefore, having made her partner of his bed, had 

i * This king seems to be the same as the hero of the old popular ditty, 

r * Old kiig Coel was a merry old soul, 1 ' &c. 


a son by her called Constantine.* After eleven years were 
expired, he died at York, and bestowed the kingdom upon 
his son, who, within a few years after he was raised to this 
dignity, began to give proofs of heroic virtue, undaunted 
courage, and strict observance of justice towards his people. 
He put a stop to the depredations of robbers, suppressed the 
insolence of tyrants, and endeavoured everywhere to restore 

Chap* Ylh— The Romans desire Constantine* s assistance against the 
cruelty of Maxentius. 

At that time there was a tyrant at Rome, named Maxentius, f 
who made it his endeavour to confiscate the estates of all the 
best of the nobility, and oppressed the commonwealth with 
his grievous tyranny. Whilst he, therefore, was proceeding 
in his cruelty, those that were banished fled to Constantine 
in Britain, and were honourably entertained by him. At 
last, when a great many such had resorted to him, they 
endeavoured to raise in him an abhorrence of the tyrant, 
and frequently expostulated with him after this manner : — 
"How long, Constantine, will you suffer our distress and 
banishment ? Why do you delay to restore us to our native 
country ? You are the only person of our nation that can 
restore to us what we have lost, by driving out Maxentius. 
For what prince is to be compared with the king of Britain, 
either for brave and gallant soldiers, or for large treasures ? 
We entreat you to restore us to our estates, wives, and 
children, by conducting us with an army to Rome." 

Chap. VIII. — Constantine, having reduced Rome, obtains the empire of 
the world, Octavius, duke of the Wisseans, is put to flight by 

Constantine, moved with these and the like speeches, made 
an expedition to Rome, and reduced it under his power, and 
afterwards obtained the empire of the whole world. In this 
expedition he carried along with him three uncles of Helena, 
viz. Leolin, Trahern, and Marius, and advanced them to the 

* Constantine was born long before Constantius Chlorus went to Britain. 
See the Roman Historians. 

+ Maxentius was son of Maxim ian who abdicated. The skeleton of this 
part of the history is taken from the authentic writers : but the details are 
entirely fictitious, 

M 2 


164 GEOFFREY^ BBITI8H HISTORY, f mok ▼. cu. 8, ft 

degree of senators. In the meantime Octavius, duke of the 
Widseaiii*, rebelled against the Roman proconsuls, to whom 
the government of the island had been committed, and having 
killed them, took possession of the throne. Constantine, upon 
information of this, sent Trahern, the uncle of Helena, with 
three legions to reduce the island. Trahern came to shore 
sear the city, which in the British tongue is called Kaerperis, 
and having assailed it, took it in two days. This news 
spreading over the whole country, king Octavius assembled 
all the forces of the land, and went to meet him not far from 
Winchester, in a field called in the British tongue Maisuriam, 
where he engaged with him in battle, and routed him. 
Trahern, upon this loss, betook himself with his broken 
forces to his ships, and in them made a voyage to Albania, 
in the provinces of which he made great destruction. When 
Octavius received intelligence of this, he followed him with 
his forces, and encountered him in Westmoreland, but fled, 
having lost the victory. On the other hand, Trahern, when 
he found the day was his own, pursued Octavius, nor ever 
suffered him to be at rest till he had dispossessed him both 
of his cities and crown. Octavius, in great grief for the loss 
of his kingdom, went with his fleet to Norway, to obtain 
assistance from king Gombert. In the meantime he had 
given orders to his most intimate adherents to watch 
carefully all opportunities of killing Trahern, which 
accordingly was not long after done by the magistrate 
of a certain privileged town, who had a more than 
ordinary love for him. For as Trahern was one day 
upon a journey from London, he lay hid with a hundred 
men in the vale of a wood, through which he was to pass, 
and there fell upon him unawares, and killed him in the 
midst of his men. This news being brought to Octavius, he 
returned back to Britain, where he dispersed the Romans, 
and recovered the throne. In a short time after this, he 
arrived to such greatness and wealth that he feared nobody, 
and possessed the kingdom until the reign of Gratian and 

Chap. IX. — Maximian it desired for a king of Britain. 

At last, in his old age, being willing to settle the govern- 
ment, he asked his council which of his family they desired 


to have for their king after his decease. For he had no son, 
and only one daughter, to whom he could lea re the crown. 
Some, therefore, advised him to bestow his daughter with 
the kingdom upon some noble Roman, to the end that they 
might enjoy a firmer peace. Others were of opinion that 
Conan Meriadoc, his nephew, ought to be preferred to the 
throne, and the daughter married to some prince of another 
kingdom with a dowry in money. While these things were 
in agitation among them, there came Caradoc, duke of 
Cornwall, and gave his advice to invite over Maximian * the 
senator, and to bestow the lady with the kingdom upon him. 
which would be a means of securing to them a lasting peace. 
For his father Leolin, the uncle of Constantine, whom we 
mentioned before, was a Briton, but by his mother and place 
of birth he was a Roman, and by both parents he was 
descended of royal blood. And there was a sure prospect 
of a firm and secure peace under him, on account of the right 
which he had to Britain by his descent from the emperors, 
and also from the British blood. But the duke of Cornwall, 
by delivering this advice, brought upon himself the dis- 
pleasure of Conan, the king's nephew, who was very 
ambitious of succeeding to the kingdom, and put the 
whole court into confusion about it. However, Caradoc, 
being unwilling to recede from his proposal, sent his son 
Mauricius to Rome to acquaint Maximian with what had 
passed. Mauricius was a person of large and well-propor- 
tioned stature, as well as great courage and boldness, and 
could not bear to have his judgment contradicted without a 
recourse to arms and duelling. On presenting himself before 
Maximian, he met with a reception suitable to his quality, 
and had the greatest honours paid him of any that were 
about him. There happened to be at that time a great 
contest between Maximian and the two emperors, Gratian 
and Valentinian, on account of his being refused the third 
part of the empire, which he demanded. When, therefore, 
Mauricius saw Maximian ill-treated by the emperors, he took 
occasion from thence to address him in this manner : " Why 
need you, Maximian, stand in fear of Gratian, when you have 
so fair an opportunity of wresting the empire from him ? 
Come with me into Britain, and you shall take possession 
* Maximua is the correct name of this usurper. 


166 rtKOFFREY's BRITISH I1IST0RY. book t. a NX 

of that crown. For king Octavius, being now grown old 
and infirm, desires nothing more than to find some such 
proper person, to bestow his kingdom and daughter upon. 
He has no male issue, and therefore has asked the advice 
of his nobility, to whom he should marry his daughter with 
the kingdom ; and they to his satisfaction have past a decree, 
that the kingdom and lady be given to you, and have sent 
me to acquaint you with it. So that if you go with me, and 
accomplish this affair, you may with the treasure and forces 
of Britain be able to return back to Rome, drive out the 
emperors, and gain the empire to yourself. For in this 
manner did your kinsman Constantius, and several others 
of our kings who raised themselves to the empire." 

Chap. X. — Maximum, coming into Britain, artfully declines fighting 
with Oman. 

Maximian was pleased with the offer, and took his journey 
to Britain ; but in his way subdued the cities of the Franks, 
by which he amassed a great treasure of gold and silver, and 
raised men for his service in all parts. Afterwards he set 
sail with a fair wind, and arrived at Hamo's Port ; the news 
of which struck the king with fear and astonishment, who 
took this to be a hostile invasion. Whereupon he called to 
him his nephew Conan, and commanded him to raise all the 
forces of the kingdom, and go to meet the enemy. Conan, 
having made the necessary preparations, marched accordingly 
to Hamo's Port, where Maximian had pitched his tents ; 
who, upon seeing the approach of so numerous an army, 
was under the greatest perplexities what course to take. 
For as he was attended with a smaller body of men, and had 
no hopes of being entertained peaceably, he dreaded both the 
number and courage of the enemy. Under these difficulties 
he called a council of the oldest men, together with Mauricius, 
to ask their advice what was to be done at this critical junc- 
ture. " It is not for us," said Mauricius, " to hazard a battle 
with such a numerous and powerful army : neither was the 
reduction of Britain by arms the end of our coming. Our 
business must be to desire peace and a hospitable treatment, 
till we can learn the king's mind. Let us say that we are sent 
by the emperors upon an embassy to Octavius, and let us 
with artful speed es pacify the people." When all had shown 


themselves pleased with this advice, he took with him twelve 
aged men with grey hairs, eminent beyond the rest for their 
quality and wisdom, and bearing olive-branches in their right 
hands, and went to meet Ccnan. The Britons, seeing they 
were men of a venerable age, and that they bore olive- 
branches as a token of peace, rose up before them in a 
respectful manner, and opened a way for their free access 
to their commander. Then presenting themselves before 
Conan Meriadoc, they saluted him in the name of the 
emperors and the" senate, and told him, that Maximian 
was sent to Octavius upon an embassy from Gratian and 
Valentinian. Conan made answer : . " Why is he then 
attended with so great a multitude ? This does not look 
like the appearance of ambassadors, but the invasion of 
enemies." To which Mauritius replied : ". It did not become 
so great a man to appear abroad in a mean figure, or without 
soldiers for his guard ; especially considering, that by reason 
of the Roman power, and the actions of his ancestors, he is 
become obnoxious to many kings. If he had but a small 
retinue, he might have been killed by the enemies of the 
commonwealth. He is come in peace, and it is peace which 
he desires. For, from the time of our arrival, our behaviour 
has been such as to give no offence to any body. We have 
bought necessaries at our own expenses, as peaceable people 
do, and have taken nothing from any by violence." While 
Conan was in suspense, whether to give them peace, or 
begin the battle, Caradoc, duke of Cornwall, with others 
of the nobility, came to him, and dissuaded him from pro- 
ceeding in the war after this representation ; whereupon, 
though much against his will, he laid down his arms, and 
granted them peace. Then he conducted Maximian to 
London, where he gave the king an account of the whol* 

Chap. XI. — The kingdom of Britain is bestowed on Maximian, 

Caradoc, after this, taking along with him his son Mauri- 
tius, commanded everybody to withdraw from the king's 
presence, and then addressed him in these words : "Behold, 
that which your more faithful and loyal subjects have long 
wished for, is now by the good providence of God brought 
about. You commanded your nobility to give their advice, 

163 Geoffrey's British history. [book ▼. en. u 

how to dispose of your daughter and kingdom, as being will- 
ing to hold the government no longer on account of jour 
great age. Some, therefore, were for having the kingdom 
delivered up to Conan your nephew, and a suitable match 
procured for your daughter elsewhere ; as fearing the ruin 
of our people, if any prince that is a stranger to our lan- 
guage should be set over us. Others were for granting the 
kingdom to your daughter and some nobleman of our own 
country, who should succeed you after your death. But the 
greater number recommended some person descended of the 
family of the emperors, on whom you should bestow your 
daughter and crown. For they promised themselves a firm 
and lasting peace, as the consequence of such a marriage, 
since they would be under the protection of the Roman 
state. See then ! God has vouchsafed to bring to you a 
young man, who is both a Roman, and also of the royal 
family of Britain ; and to whom, if you follow my advice, 
you will not delay to marry your daughter. And indeed, 
should you refuse him, what right could you plead to the 
crown of Britain against him ? For he is the cousin of Con- 
stantine, and the nephew of king Coel, whose daughter 
Helena possessed the crown by an undeniable hereditary 
right." When Caradoc had represented these things to him, 
Octavius acquiesced, and with the general consent of his 
people bestowed the kingdom and his daughter upon him. 
Conan Meriadoc, finding how things went, was beyond ex- 
pression incensed, and, retiring into Albania, used all his 
interest to raise an army, that he might give disturbance to 
Maximian. And when he had got a great body of men 
together, he passed the Humber, and wasted the provinces 
on each side of it. At the news whereof, Maximian 
hastened to assemble his forces against him, and then gave 
him battle, and returned with victory. But this proved no 
decisive blow to Conan, who with his re-assembled troops 
still continued to ravage the provinces, and provoked Max- 
imian to return again and renew the war, in which he had 
various success, being sometimes victorious, sometimes de- 
feated. At last, after great damages done on both sides, 
thov were brought by the mediation of friends to a recon- 


Chap. XII. — Maximum overthrows the Armor icons : hit speech to 

Five years after this, Maximian, proud of the vast treasures 
that daily flowed in upon him, fitted out a great fleet, and 
assembled together all the forces in Britain. For this king- 
dom was now not sufficient for him ; he was ambitious of 
adding Gaul also to it. With this view he set sail, and 
arrived first at the kingdom of Armorica, now called Bre- 
tagne, and began hostilities upon the Gallic people that 
inhabited it. But the Gauls, under the command of Im- 
baltus, met him, and engaged him in battle, in which the 
greater part being in danger, they were forced to fly, and 
leave Lnbaltus with fifteen thousand men killed, all of them 
Armoricans. This severe overthrow was matter of the 
greatest joy to Maximian, who knew the reduction of that 
country would be very easy, after the loss of so many men. 
Upon this occasion he called Conan aside from the army, 
and smiling said ; — " See, we have already conquered one of 
the best kingdoms in Gaul: we may now have hopes of 
gaining all the rest. Let us make haste to take the cities 
and towns, before the rumour of their danger spread to the 
remoter parts of Gaul, and raise all the people up in arms. 
For if we can but get possession of this kingdom, I make no 
doubt of reducing all Gaul under our power. Be not there- 
fore concerned that you have yielded up the island of 
Britain to me, notwithstanding the hopes you once had of 
succeeding to it ; because whatever you have lost in it, I 
will restore to you in this country. For my design is to 
advance you to the throne of this kingdom ; and this shall 
be another Britain, which we will people with our own 
countrymen, and drive out the old inhabitants. The land is 
fruitful in corn, the rivers abound with fish, the woods 
afford a beautiful prospect, and the forests are everywhere 
pleasant ; nor is there in my opinion anywhere a more de- 
lightful country." Upon this, Conan, with a submissive 
bow, gave him his thanks, and promised to continue loyal to 
him as long as he lived. 

170 Geoffrey's British history. j«x«T.r». 13.14. 

Chap. XIII.— Redonum taken by Maximian. 

After this they marched with their forces to Redcnum,* 
and took it the same day. For the citizens, hearing of the 
bravery of the Britons, and what slaughter they had made, 
fled away with haste, leaving their wives and children 
behind them. And the rest of the cities and towns soon 
followed their example ; so that there was an easy entrance 
into them for the Britons, who wherever they entered killed 
all they found left of the male sex, and spared only the 
women. At last, when they had wholly extirpated the 
inhabitants of all those provinces, they garrisoned the cities 
and towns with British soldiers, and made fortifications in 
several places. The fame of Maximian's exploits spreading 
over the rest of the provinces of Gaul, all their dukes and 
princes were in a dreadful consternation, and had no other 
hopes left but in their prayers to their gods. Maximian, 
Ending that he had struck terror into them, began to think 
of still bolder attempts, and by profusely distributing pre- 
sents, augmented his army. For all persons that he knew 
to be eager for plunder, he enlisted into his service, and 
by plentifully bestowing his money and other valuable things 
among them, kept them firm to his interest. 

Chap. XIV. — Maximian, after the conquest of Gaul and Germany, makes 
Triers the seat of his empire. 

By these means he raised such a numerous army, as he 
thought would be sufficient for the conquest of all GauL 
Notwithstanding which he suspended his arms for a time, 
till he had settled the kingdom which he had taken, and 
peopled it with Britons. To this end he published a decree, 
for the assembling together of a hundred thousand of the 
common people of Britain, who were to come over to settle 
in the country ; besides thirty thousand soldiers, to defend 
them from hostile attack. As soon as the people were 
arrived according to his orders, he distributed them through 
all the countries of Armorica, and made another Britain of 
it, and then bestowed it on Conan Meriadoc. But he him- 
aelf, with the rest of his fellow soldiers, marched into the 

* Rennet. 

*.f 38tf. 886.", CONAN AND THE AQUITANIANS. 171 

further part of Gaul, which, after many bloody battles, he. 
subdued, as he did also all Germany, being everywhere 
victorious. But the seat of his empire he made at Triers, 
and fell so furiously upon the two emperors, Gratian and 
Yalentinian, that he killed the one, and forced the other to 
flee from Rome. 

Chap. XV. — A fight between the Aquitanians and Conan. 

In the meantime, the Gauls and Aquitanians gave disturb- 
ance to Conan and the Armorican Britons, and harassed 
them with their frequent incursions ; but he as often defeated 
them, and bravely defended the country committed to him. 
After he had entirely vanquished them, he had a mind to 
bestow wives on Ids fellow soldiers, by whom they might 
have issue to keep perpetual possession of the country ; and 
to avoid all mixture with the Gauls, he sent over to the 
island of Britain for wives for them. In order to accom- 
plish this, messengers were sent to recommend the manage- 
ment of this affair to Dianotus, king of Cornwall, who had 
succeeded his brother Caradoc in that kingdom. He was a 
very noble and powerful prince, and to him Maximian had 
committed the government, while he was employed in affairs 
abroad. He had also a daughter of wonderful beauty, 
named Ursula, with whom Conan was most passionately 
in love. 

Chap. XVI. — Guanius and Melga murder eleven thousand virgins. Max- 
imian is killed at Rome. 

Dianotus, upon this message sent him by Conan, was very 
ready to execute his orders, and summoned together the 
daughters of the nobility from all provinces, to the number 
of eleven thousand ; but of the meaner sort, sixty thousand ; 
and commanded them all to appear together in the city of 
London. He likewise ordered ships to be brought from all 
shores, for their transportation to their future husbands. 
And though in so great a multitude many were pleased with 
this order, yet it was displeasing to the greater part, who 
had a greater affection for their relations and native country. 
Nor, perhaps, were there wanting some who, preferring 
virginity to the married state, would have rather lost theii 

172 oeoffbey's British history. [book ▼. ch. it 

lives in any country, than enjoyed the greatest plenty in 
wedlock. In short, most of them had views and wishes dif- 
ferent from one another, had they been left to their own 
liberty. But now the ships being ready, they went on 
board, and sailing down the Thames, made towards the sea. 
At last, as they were steering towards the Armorican coast, 
contrary winds arose and dispersed the whole fleet. In this 
storm the greater part of the ships foundered; but the 
women that escaped the danger of the sea, were driven upon 
strange islands, and by a barbarous people either murdered 
or made slaves. For they happened to fall into the hands of 
the cruel army of Guanius and Melga, who, by the com • 
mand of Gratian,* were making terrible destruction in Ger • 
many, and the nations on the sea-coast. Guanius was king 
of the Huns, and Melga of the Picts, whom Gratian had 
engaged in his party, and had sent him into Germany to 
harass those of Maximian's party along the sea-coasts. 
While they were thus exercising their barbarous rage, they 
happened to light upon these virgins, who had been driven 
on those parts, and were so inflamed with their beauty, that 
they courted them to their brutish embraces ; which, when 
the women would not submit to, the Ambrons fell upon 
them, and without remorse murdered the greatest part of 
them. This done, the two wicked leaders of the Picts and 
Huns, Guanius and Melga, being the partizans of Gratian 
and Valentinian, when they had learned that the island of 
Britain was drained of all its soldiers, made a speedy voyage 
towards it ; and, taking into their assistance the people of 
the adjacent islands, arrived in Albania. Then joining in a 
body, they invaded the kingdom, which was left without 
either government or defence, and made miserable destruc- 
tion among the common people. For Maximian, as we have 
already related, had carried away with him all the warlike 
youth that could be found, and had left behind him only the 
husba&nmen, who had neither sense nor arms, for the defence 
of their country. Guanius and Melga, finding that they 
were not able to make the least opposition, began to domineer 
most insolently, and to lay waste their cities and countries, 
as if they had only been pens of sheep. The news of this 

* That it, Gratian the emperor, and brother of Valentinian, not Gratiac 

4.0. 407.; DEATH OF GRATIAN MUNICEP3. 173 

grievous calamity, coming to Maximian, he sent away Gra* 
tian Municeps,* with two legions, to their assistance; who, 
as soon as they arrived, fought with the enemy, and after a 
most bloody victory over them, forced them to fly over into 
Ireland. In the meantime, Maximian was killed at Rome 
by Gratian's friends ;f and the Britons whom he had carried 
with him were also slain or dispersed. Those of them that 
could escape, went to their countrymen in Armorica, which 
was now called the other Britain. 


Chap. I. — Gratian, being advanced to the throne, is killed by the common 
people. The Britons desire the Romans to defend them against Ouanius 
and Melga. 

But Gratian Municeps,^ hearing of the death of Maximian, 
seized the crown, and made himself king. After this he 
exercised such tyranny that the common people fell upon 
him in a tumultuous manner, and murdered him. When 
this news reached other countries, their former enemies re- 
turned back from Ireland, and bringing with them the Scots, 
Norwegians, and Dacians, made dreadful devastations with 
fire and sword over the whole kingdom, from sea to sea. 
Upon this most grievous calamity and oppression, ambassa- 
dors are despatched with letters to Eome, to beseech, with 
tears and vows of perpetual subjection, that a body of men 
might be sent to revenge their injuries, and drive out the 
enemy from them. The ambassadors in a short time pre- 
vailed so far, that, unmindful of past injuries, the Romans 
granted them one legion, which was transported in a fleet to 
their country, and there speedily encountered the enemy. 

• This Gratian was called Municeps, because he was a citizen of Bri- 

f Maximus was besieged in Aquileia, and slain by Theodosius, emperor 
of the East, a.d. 388. 

% There was also one Marcus at this time, whom the soldiers in Britain 
advanced to the sovereignty; but he was soon got rid of. 

174 Geoffrey's British history. [book vi. cm.* 

At list, after the slaughter of a vast multitude of them, they 
drove them entirely out of the country, and rescued the 
miserable people from their outrageous cruelty. Then they 
gave orders for a wall to be built between Albania and 
Deira, from one sea to the other, for a terror to the enemy, 
and safeguard to the country. At that time Albania was 
wholly laid waste, by the frequent invasions of barbarous 
nations ; and whatever enemies made an attempt upon the 
country, met with a convenient landing-place there. So 
that the inhabitants were diligent in working upon the 
wall,* which they finished partly at the public, partly upon 
private charge. 

Chap. II. — Guethelirfs speech to the Britons when the Romans left them. 

The Romans, after this, declared to the Britons, that they 
should not be able for the future to undergo the fatigue of 
such laborious expeditions ; and that it was beneath the dig- 
nity of the Roman state to harass so great and brave an 
army, both by land and sea, against base and vagabond rob- 
bers ; but that they ought to apply themselves to the use of 
arms, and to fight bravely in defending to the utmost of their 
power, their country, riches, wives, children, and, what is 
dearer than all these, their liberty and lives. As soon as 
they had given them this exhortation, they commanded all 
the men of the island that were fit for war, to appear 
together at London, because the Romans were about to 
return home. When, therefore, they were all assembled, 
Guethelin, the metropolitan of London, had orders to make 
a speech to them, which he did in these words : — 

" Though I am appointed by the princes here present to 
speak to you, I find myself rather ready to burst into tears, 
than to make an eloquent oration. It is a most sensible 
affliction to me to observe the weak and destitute state intc 
which you are fallen since Maximian drew away with him 
all the forces and youth of this kingdom. You that were 
left were people wholly inexperienced in war, and occupied 
with other employments, as tilling the ground, and several 
kinds of mechanical trades. So that when your enemies 

• It wai unnecessary for the Britons to build a wall, because there was 
one built for them by Severus 200 yean before. 


from foreign countries came upon you, as sheep wandering 
-without a shepherd, they forced you to quit your folds, till 
the Roman power restored you to them again. Must your 
hopes, therefore, always depend upon foreign assistance ? 
And will you never use yourselves to handle arms against a 
band of robbers, that are by no means stronger than your- 
selves, if you are not dispirited by sloth and cowardice f 
The Romans are now tired with the continual voyages 
wherewith they are harassed to defend you against your 
enemies: they rather choose to remit to you the tribute 
you pay them, than undergo any Vmger this fatigue by land 
and sea. Because you were only the common people at the 
time when we had soldiers of our own, do you therefore 
think that manhood has quite forsaken you ? Are not men 
in the course of human generation often the reverse of one 
another ? Is not a ploughman often the father of a soldier, 
and a soldier of a ploughman ? Does not the same diversity 
happen in a mechanic and a soldier ? Since then, in this 
manner, one produces another, I cannot think it possible for 
manhood to be lost among them. As then you are men, be- 
have yourselves like men : call upon the name of Christ, 
that he may inspire you with courage to defend your 

No sooner had he concluded his speech, than the people 
raised such a shout, that one would have thought them on a 
sudden inspired with courage from heaven. 

^^hap. III. — The Britons are again cruelly harassed by Ouanius ant 


After this the Romans encouraged the timorous people as 
much as they could, and left them patterns of their arms. 
They likewise commanded tower^ having a prospect towards 
the sea, to be placed at proper distances along all the south 
coast, where their ships were, and from whence they feared 
the invasions of the barbarians. But, according to the pro- 
yerb, " It is easier to make a hawk of a kite, than a scholar 
of a ploughman ;" all learning to him is but as a pearl thrown 
before swine. Thus, no sooner had the Romans taken their 
farewell of them, than the two leaders, Guanius and Melga, 
issued forth from their ships, in which they had fled over 
into Ireland; and with their bands of Scots, Picts, Norwe- 

176 Geoffrey's British history. L »o<« 

gians, Dacians, and others, whom they had brought along 
with them, seized upon all Albania as far as the very wall. 
Understanding, likewise, that the Romans were gone, never 
to return any more, they now, in a more insolent manner 
than before, began their devastations in the island. Here- 
upon the country fellows upon the battlements of the walls 
sat night and day with quaking hearts, not daring to stir 
from their seats, and readier for flight than making the least 
resistance. In the meantime the enemies ceased not with 
their hooks to pull them down headlong, and dash the 
wretched herd to pieces upon the ground ; who gained at 
least this advantage by their speedy death, that they avoided 
the sight of that most deplorable calamity, which forthwith 
threatened their relations and dearest children. Such was 
the terrible vengeance of God for that most wicked madness 
of Maximian, in draining the kingdom of all its forces, who, 
had they been present, would have repulsed any nation that 
invaded them ; an evident proof of which they gave, by the 
vast conquests they made abroad, even in remote countries ; 
and also by maintaining their own country in peace, while 
they continued here. But thus it happens when a country 
is left to the defence of country clowns. In short, quitting 
their high wall and their cities, the country people were forced 
again to fly, and to suffer a more fatal dispersion, a more 
furious pursuit of the enemy, a more cruel and more general 
slaughter than before ; and like lambs before wolves, so was 
that miserable people torn to pieces by the merciless barba- 
rians. Again, therefore, the wretched remainder send letters 
to Agitius, a man of great power among the Romans, to this 
effect. "To Agitius,* thrice consul, the groans of the 
Britons." And after some few other complaints they add : 
" The sea drives us to the barbarians, and the barbarians 
drive us back to the sea : thus are we tossed to and fro be- 
tween two kinds of death, being either drowned or put to 
the sword." Notwithstanding this most moving address, 
they procured no relief, and the ambassadors returning back 
in great heaviness, declared to their countrymen the repulse 
which they had suffered. 

* JEtius is the name of this general in the classic writer* 


Chap. IV.—Chiethelin desires succours i/JMroen- 

Hereupon, after a consultation together, Guethelin, arch- 
bishop of London, passed over into Lesser Britain, called then 
Armorica, or Letavia, to desire assistance of their brethren. 
At that time Aldroen reigned there, being the fourth king 
from Conan, to whom, as has been already related, Maximian 
had given that kingdom. This prince, seeing a prelate of so 
great dignity arrive, received him with honour, and inquired 
after the occasion of his coming. To whom Guethelin :— 

" Your majesty can be no stranger to the misery which we ; 
your Britons, have suffered (which may even demand your 
tears), since the time that Maximian drained our island of 
its soldiers, to people the kingdom which you enjoy,* and 
which God grant you may long enjoy in peace. For against 
us the poor remains of the British race, all the people of the 
adjacent islands, have risen up, and made an utter devasta- 
tion in our country, which then abounded with all kinds of 
riches ; so that the people now are wholly destitute of all 
manner of sustenance, but what they can get in hunting. 
Nor had we any power or knowledge of military affairs left 
among us to encounter the enemy. For the Romans are 
tired of us, and have absolutely refused their assistance. So 
that now, deprived of all other hope, we come to implore 
your clemency, that you would furnish us with forces, and 
protect a kingdom, which is of right your own, from the in- 
cursions of barbarians. For who but yourself, ought, with- 
out your consent, to wear the crown of Constantine and 
Maximian, since the right your ancestors had to it is now 
devolved upon you ? Prepare then your fleet, and go with 
me. Behold ! I deliver the kingdom of Britain into your 

To this Aldroen made answer : " There was a time for- 
merly when I would not have refused to accept of the island 
of Britain, if it had been offered me ; for I do not think there 
was anywhere a more fruitful country while it enjoyed peace 
and tranquillity. But now, since the calamities that have 
befallen it, it is become of less value, and odious both to me 
and all other princes. But above all things the power of the 
Romans was so destructive to it> that nobody could enjoy 
any settled state or authority in it, without loss of liberty, 


178 GEOFFREY'S BRITISH H13TOE1. iBwosr.pi 

and bearing the joke of slavery under them. And who 
would not piefer the possession of a lesser ccuntry with 
liberty, to all the riches of that island in servitude ? The 
kingdom that is now under my subjection I enjoy with 
honour, and without paying homage to any superior ; so that 
I prefer it to all other countries, since I can govern it with- 
out being controlled. Nevertheless, out of respect to the 
right that my ancestors for maay generations have had to 
your island, I deliver to you my brother Constantine with 
two thousand men, that with the good providence of God, 
he may free your country from the inroads of barbarians, 
and obtain the crown for himself. For I have a brother 
called by that name, who is an expert soldier, and in all other 
respects an accomplished man. If you please to accept of 
him, I will not refuse to send him with you, together with 
the said number of men ; for indeed a larger number I do 
not mention to you, because I am daily threatened with dis- 
turbance from the Gauls." He had scarcely done speaking 
before the archbishop returned him thanks, and when Con- 
stantine was called in, broke out into these expressions of 
joy : " Christ conquers ; Christ commands ; Christ reigns : 
behold the king of desolate Britain ! Be Christ only present, 
and behold our defence, our hope and joy." In short, the 
ships being got ready, the men who were chosen out from 
all parts of the kingdom, were delivered to Guethelin. 

Chap. V. — Constantine, being made king of Britain, leaves three sons. 

When they had made all necessary preparations, they em- 
barked, and arrived at the port of Totness ; and then with- 
out delay assembled together the youth that was left in the 
island, and encountered the enemy ; over whom, by the 
merit of the holy prelate, they obtained the victory. After 
this the Britons, before dispersed, flocked together from all 
parts, and in a council held at Silchester, promoted Constan- 
tine to the throne, and there performed the ceremony of his 
coronation. , They also married him to a lady, descended 
from a noble Roman family, whom archbishop Guethelin had 
educated, and by whom the king had afterwards three sons, 
Constans, Aurelius Ambrosius, and Uther Pendragon. Con- 
etans, who was the eldest, he delivered to the church cf Am- 
phibalus in Winchester, that he might there take upon him 

*jfc 409.] C301COXATIOX OP CONST AN9. 179 

the monastic order. But the other two, viz. Aurelius and 
Uther, he committed to the care of G-uethelin for their edu- 
cation. At last, after ten years were expired, there came a 
certain Pict, who had entered in his service, and under pre* 
tence of holding some private discourse with him, in a 
nursery of young trees where nobody was present sobbed 
him with a dagger. 

Chap. VI. — Constant is by Vortigern crowned king of Britain, 

Upon the death of Constantine, a dissension arose among the 
nobility, about a successor to the throne. Some were for 
setting up Aurelius Ambrosius ; others Uther Pendragon ; 
others again some other persons of the royal family. At last, 
when they could come to no conclusion, Vortigern, consul 
of the G-ewisseans, who was himself very ambitious of the 
crown, went to Constans the monk,* and thus addressed 
himself to him : " You see your father is dead, and your 
brothers on account of their age are incapable of the govern- 
ment ; neither do I see any of your family besides yourself, 
whom the people ought to promote to the kingdom. If you 
will therefore follow my advice, I will, on condition of your 
increasing my private estate, dispose the people to favour 
your advancement, and free you from that habit, notwith- 
standing that it is against the rule of your order." Constans, 
overjoyed at the proposal, promised, with an oath, that upon 
these terms he would grant him whatever he would desire. 
Then Vortigern took him, and investing him in his regal 
habiliments, conducted him to London, and made him king, 
though not with the free consent of the people. Arch- 
bishop G-uethelin was then dead, nor was there any other 
that durst perform the ceremony of liis unction, on account 
of his having quitted the monastic order. However, this 
proved no hindrance to his coronation, for Vortigern himself 
performed the ceremony instead of a bishop. 

* It 18 true that Constans, the son of Constantine, entered into the 
sacerdotal profession, but both he and his father Constantine were slain in 
Gaul, which they had made the seat of their empire, to the entire i.eglect 
of Britain. 

v 2 

180 GEOFFRKVS BU1TISH IIlBTOKr 'book ▼!. cm. T. 

Chap. VII. — Vortigern treacherously contrives to get king Constant 

Constats, being thus advanced, committed the whole 
government of the kingdom to Vortigern, and surrendered 
himself up so entirely to his counsels, that he did nothing 
without his order. His own incapacity for government 
obliged him to do this, for he had learned any thing else 
rather than state affairs within his cloister. Vortigern 
became sensible of this, and therefore began to deliberate 
with himself what course to take to obtain the crown, of 
which he had been before extremely ambitious. He saw 
that now was his proper time to gain his end easily, when 
the kingdom was wholly intrusted to his management ; and 
Constans, who bore the title of king, was no more than the 
shadow of one ; for he was of a soft temper, a bad judge in 
matters of right, and not in the least feared, either by his 
own people, or by the neighbouring states. And as for his 
two brothers, Uther Pendragon and Aurelius Ambrosius, 
they were only children in their cradles, and therefore 
incapable of the government. There was likewise this 
farther misfortune, that all the older persons of the nobility 
were dead, so that Vortigern seemed to be the only man 
surviving, that had craft, policy, and experience in matters 
of state ; and all the rest in a manner children, or raw 
youths, who only inherited the honours of their parents and 
relations that had been killed in the former wars. Vortigern, 
finding a concurrence of so many favourable circumstances, 
contrived how he might easily and cunningly depose Constans 
the monk, and immediately establish himself in his place. 
But in order to do this, he waited until he had first well 
established his power and interest in several countries. He 
therefore petitioned to have the king's treasures, and his 
fortified cities, in his own custody ; pretending there was a 
rumour, that the neighbouring islanders designed an invasion 
of the kingdom. This being granted him, he placed his own 
creatures in those cities, to secure them for himself. Then 
having formed a scheme how to execute his treasonable 
designs, he went to the king, and represented to him the 
necessity of augmenting the number of his domestics, that 


he might more safely oppose the invasion of the enemy. 
" Have not I left all things to your disposal ?" said Constant 
" Do what you will as to that, so that they be but faithful ±i* 
me." Vortigern replied, "I am informed that the Picts are 
going to bring the Dacians and Norwegians in upon us, with 
a design to give us very great annoyance. I would therefore 
advise you, and in my opinion it is the best course you can 
take, that you maintain some Picts in your court, who may 
do you good service among those of that nation. For if it 
is true that they are preparing to begin a rebellion, you may 
employ them as spies upon their countrymen in their plots 
and stratagems, so as easily to escape them." This was the 
dark treason of a secret enemy ; for he did not recommend 
this out of regard to the safety of Constans, but because he 
knew the Picts to be a giddy people, and ready for all 
manner of wickedness ; so that, in a fit of drunkenness or 
passion, they might easily be incensed against the king, and 
make no scruple to assassinate him. And such an accident, 
when it should happen, would make an open way for his 
accession to the throne, which he so often had in view. 
Hereupon he despatched messengers into Scotland, with an 
invitation to a hundred Pictish soldiers, whom accordingly 
he received into the king's household ; and when admitted, 
he showed them more respect than all the rest of the domes- 
tics, by making them several presents, and allowing them a 
luxurious table, insomuch that they looked upon him as the 
king. So great was the regard they had for him, that they 
made songs of him about the streets, the subject of which 
was, that Vortigern deserved the government, deserved the 
sceptre of Britain ; but that Constans was unworthy of it. 
This encouraged Vortigern to show them still more favour, 
in order the more firmly to engage them in his interest ; and 
when by these practices he had made them entirely his 
creatures, he took an opportunity, when they were drunk, to 
tell them, that he was going to retire out of Britain, to see if 
he could get a better estate ; for the small revenue he had 
then, he said, would not so ranch as enable him to maintain a 
retinue of fifty men. Then putting on a look of sadness, he 
withdrew to his own apartment, and left them drinking in 
the hall. The Picts at this sight were in inexpressible sorrow, 
as thinking what he had said was true, and murmuring said 

182 GEOFFREY'S BRITISH niSTORT. Lbook vi. cm. 8, 9. 

one to another, " Why do we suffer tliis monk to live ? Why 
do not we kill him, that Vortigern may enjoy his crown ? 
Who is so fit to succeed as he ? A man so generous to us is 
worthy to rule, and deserves all the honour and dignity that 
we can bestow upon him." 

Chap. VIII. — Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon flee from 
"* Vortigern, and go to Lesser Britain, 

After this, breaking into Constan's bed-chamber, they fell 
upon him and killed him, and carried his head to Vortigern. 
At the sight of it, he put on a mournful countenance, and 
burst forth into tears, though at the same time he was 
almost transported with joy. However, he summoned 
together the citizens of London, (for there the fact was 
committed,) and commanded all the assassins to be bound, 
and their heads to be cut off for this abominable parricide. 
In the meantime there were some who had a suspicion, that 
this piece of villany was wholly the contrivance of Vortigern, 
and that the Picts were only his instruments to execute it. 
Others again as positively asserted his innocence. At last 
the matter being left in doubt, those who had the care of the 
two brothers, Aurelius Ambrosius, and Uther Pendragon, 
fled over with them into Lesser Britain, for fear of being 
killed by Vortigern. There they were kindly received by 
king Budes, who took care to give them an education suitable 
to their royal birth. 

Chap. IX. — Vortigern makes himself king of Britain. 

Now Vortigern, seeing nobody to rival him in the kingdom, 
placed the crown on his own head, and thus gained the pre- 
eminence over all the rest of the princes. At last his treason 
being discovered, the people of the adjacent islands, whom 
the Picts had brought into Albania, made insurrection 
against him. For the Picts were enraged on account of the 
death of their fellow soldiers, who had been slain for the 
murder of Constans, and endeavoured to revenge that injury 
upon him. Vortigern therefore was daily in great distress, 
and lost a considerable part of his army in a war with them. 
He had likewise no less trouble from another quarter, for 
fear of Aurelius Ambrosius, and his brother Uther Pendra- 


gon, who, as we said before, had fled, on his account, into 
Lesser Britain. For he heard it rumoured, day after day, 
that they had now arrived at man's estate, and had built a 
vast fleet, with a design to return back to the kingdom, which 
was their undoubted right. 

Chap. X. — Vortigern takes the Saxons that were new-comers, to hie 

In the meantime there arrived in Kent three brigandines, az 
long galleys, full of armed men, under the command of tvro 
brothers, Horsa and Hengist.* Vortigern was then at 
Dorobernia, now Canterbury, which city he used often to 
visit ; and being informed of the arrival of some tall 
strangers in large ships, he ordered that they should be 
received peaceably, and conducted into his presence. As 
soon as they were brought before him, he cast his eyes upon 
the two brothers, who excelled all the rest both in nobility 
and gracefulness of person ; and having taken a view of the 
whole company, asked them of what country they were, and 
what was the occasion of their coming into his kingdom. 
To whom Hengist (whose years and wisdom entitled him to 
a precedence), in the name of the rest, made the following 
answer : — 

" Most noble king, Saxony, which is one of the countries 
of Germany, was the place of our birth ; and the occasion 
of our coming was to offer our service to you or some other 
prince. For we were driven out of our native country, for 
no other reason, but that the laws of the kingdom required 
it. It is- customary among us, that when we come to be 
overstocked with people, our princes from all the provinces 
meet together, and command all the youths of the kingdom 
to assemble before them ; then casting lots, they make choice 
of the strongest and ablest of them, to go into foreign nations, 
to procure themselves a subsistence, and free their native 
country from a superfluous multitude of people. Our 
country, therefore, being of late overstocked, our princes 
met, and after having cast lots, made choice of the youth 
which you see in your presence, and have obliged us to obey 

• It is the generally received opinion that Hengist and Horsa landed ia 
Britain a.d. 449. 


the custom which has been established of .old. And us two 
brothers, Hengist and Horsa, they made generals over them, 
out of respect to our ancestors, who enjoyed the same honour. 
In obedience, therefore, to the laws so long established, we 
put out to sea, and under the good guidance of Mercury 
have arrived in your kingdom." 

The king, at the name of Mercury, looking earnestly upon 
them, asked them what religion they professed. " We wor- 
ship," replied Hengist, " our country's gods, Saturn and Jupi- 
ter, and the other deities that govern the world, but especially 
Mercury, whom in our language we call Woden, and to 
whom our ancestors consecrated the fourth day of the week, 
still called after his name Wodensday. Next to him we 
worship the powerful goddess, Frea, to whom they also dedi- 
cated the sixth day, which after her name we call Friday." 
Vortigern replied, " For your credulity, or rather incredulity, 
I am much grieved, but I rejoice at your arrival, which, 
whether by God's providence or some other agency, happens 
very seasonably for me in my present difficulties. For I am • 
oppressed by my enemies on every side, and if you will 
engage with me in my wars, I will entertain you honourably 
in my kingdom, and bestow upon you lands and other pos- 
sessions." The barbarians readily accepted his offer, and 
the agreement between them being ratified, they resided at 
his court. Soon after this, the Ficts, issuing forth from 
Albania, with a very great army, began to lay waste the 
northern parts of the island. When Vortigern had inform- 
ation of it, he assembled his forces, and went to meet them 
beyond the Humber. Upon their engaging, the battle 
proved very fierce on both sides, though there was but little 
occasion for the Britons to exert themselves, for the Saxons 
fought so bravely, that the enemy, formerly so victorious, 
were speedily put to flight. 

Chap. XI. — Hengist brings over great numbers of Saxons into Britain •• 
his crafty petition to Vortigern. 

Vortigern, therefore, as he owed the victory to them, in- 
creased his bounty to them, and gave their general, Hengist, 
large possessions of land in Lindesia,* for the subsistence of 

* Or Lindsey. See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. .09, note 


nimself and his fellow soldiers. Hereupon Hengist, who 
was a man of experience and subtilty, finding how much 
interest he had with the king, addressed him in this manner: 
— " Sir, your enemies give you disturbance from all quarters, 
and few of your subjects love you. They all threaten you, 
and say, they are going to bring over Aurelius Ambrosius 
from Armorica, to depose you, and make him king. If you 
please, let us send to our country to invite over some more 
soldiers, that with our forces increased we may be better 
able to oppose them. But there is one thing which I would 
desire of your clemency, if I did not fear a refusal." Vorti- 
gern made answer, " Send your messengers to Germany, and 
invite over whom you please, and you shall have no refusal 
from me in whatever you shall desire." Hengist, with a low 
bow, returned him thanks, and said, " The possessions which 
you have given me in land and houses are very large, but 
you have not yet done me that honour which becomes my 
station and birth, because, among other things, I should 
have had some town or city granted me, that I might be 
entitled to greater esteem among the nobility of your king- 
dom. I ought to have been made a consul or prince, since 
my ancestors enjoyed both those dignities." " It is not in 
my power," replied Vortigern, " to do you so much honour, 
because you are strangers and pagans ; neither am I yet so 
far acquainted with your manners and customs, as to set you 
upon a level with my natural born subjects. And, indeed, 
if I did esteem you as my subjects, I should not be forward 
to do so, because the nobility of my kingdom would strongly 
dissuade me from it." " Give your servant," said Hengist, 
" only so much ground in the place you have assigned me, 
as I can encompass with a leathern thong, for to build a for- 
tress upon, as a place of retreat if occasion should require. 
For I will always be faithful to you, as I have been hitherto, 
and pursue no other design in the request which I have 
made." With these words the king was prevailed upon to 
grant him his petition ; and ordered him to despatch messen- 
gers into Germany, to invite more men over speedily to his 
assistance. Hengist immediately executed his orders, and 
taking a bull's hide, made one thong out of the whole, with 
which he encompassed a rocky place that he had carefully 
made choice of, and within that circuit began to build a 


castle, which, when finished, took its name from the thong 
wherewith it had been measured; for it was afterwards 
called, in the British tongue, Kaercorrei ; in Saxon, Than- 
castre, that is, Thong Castle.* 

Chap. XII. — Vortigern marries Rowen 9 \ the daughter of Hengist* 

In the meantime, the messengers returned from Germany, 
with eighteen ships full of the best soldiers they could get. 
They also brought along with them Rowen, the daughter of 
Hengist, one of the most accomplished beauties of that age. 
After their arrival, Hengist invited the king to his house, to 
view his new buildings, and the new soldiers that were 
come over. The king readily accepted of his invitation, but 
privately, and having highly commended the magnificence of 
the structure, enlisted the men into his service. Here he 
was entertained at a royal banquet ; and when that was 
over, the young lady came out of her chamber bearing a 
golden cup full of wine, with which she approached the 
king, and making a low courtesy, said to him, "Lauerd % king 
wacht heil ! " The king, at the sight of the lady's face, was 
on a sudden both surprised and inflamed with her beauty j 
and calling to his interpreter, asked him what she said, and 
what answer he should make her. " She called you, * Lord 
king,'" said the interpreter, "and offered to drink your health. 
Your answer to her must be, 'Drinc heilP" Vortigern 
accordingly answered, "Drinc heil!" and bade her drink; 
after which he took the cup from her hand, kissed her, and 
drank himself. From that time to this, it has been the 
custom in Britain, that he who drinks to any one says, 
"Wacht heil!" and he that pledges him, answers "Drinc 
heil!" Vortigern being now drunk with the variety of 
liquors, the devil took this opportunity to enter into his 
heart, and to make him in love with the damsel, so that he 
became suitor to her father for her. It was, I say, by the 
devil's entering into his heart, that he, who was a Christian, 
should fall in love with a pagan. By this example, Hengist, 

* Now called Caistor, twenty-three miles N.N.E. from Lincoln, 
t More commonly and elegantly called Rowena ; Ronwen and Uonwenna 
occur in some of the MSS. 
Z That in, Lord. 


being a prudent man, discovered the king's levity, and con- 
sulted with his brother Horsa and the other ancient men 
present, what to do in relation to the king's request. They 
unanimously advised him to give him his daughter, and in con- 
sideration of her to demand the province of Kent. Accord- 
ingly the daughter was without delay delivered to Vortigern, 
and the province of Kent to Hengist, without the knowledge 
of Gorangan, who had the government of it. The king the 
same night married the pagan lady, and became extremely 
delighted with her ; by which he quickly brought upon him- 
self the hatred of the nobility, and of his own sons. For he 
had already three sons, whose names were Vortimer, Cati- 
gern, and Pascentius. 

Chap. XIII. — The bishops, Germanus and Lupus, restore ihe Christian 
faith that had been corrupted in Britain, Octa and Ebissa are four 
times routed by Vortimer. 

At that time came St. Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, and 
Lupus, bishop of Troyes, to preach the gospel to the Britons. 
For the Christian faith had been corrupted among them, 
partly by the pagans whom the king had brought into 
society with them, partly by the Pelagian heresy, with 
the poison whereof they had been a long time infected. But 
by the preaching of these holy men, the true faith and wor- 
ship was again restored, the many miracles they wrought 
giving success to their labours. Gildas has in his elegant 
treatise given an account of the many miracles God wrought 
by them. The king being now, as we have said, possessed 
of the lady, Hengist said to him : "As I am your father, I 
claim the right of being your counsellor : do not therefore 
slight my advice, since it is to my countrymen you must owe 
the conquest of all your enemies. Let us invite over my 
son Octa and his brother Ebissa, who are brave soldiers, and 
give them the countries that are in the northern parts oi 
Britain, by the wall, between Deira and Albania. For they 
will hinder the inroads of the barbarians, and so you shall 
enjoy peace on the other side of the Humbert Vortigern 
complied with his request, and ordered them to invite over 
whomsoever they knew able to assist him. Immediately 
upon the receipt of this message, came Octa, Ebissa, and 
Cherdich, with three hundred ships filled with soldiers, wlo 


were all kindly received by Vortigern, and Lad ample 
presents made them. For by their assistance he vanquished 
his enemies, and in every engagement proved victorious. 
. Hengist in the meantime continued to invite over more and 
more ships, and to augment his numbers daily. Which 
when the Britons observed, they were afraid of being be- 
trayed by them, and moved the king to banish them out of 
his coasts. For it was contrary to the rule of the gospel 
that Christians should hold fellowship, or have any inter- 
course, with pagans. Besides which, the number of those 
that were come over was now so great, that they were a 
terror to his subjects ; and nobody could now know who was 
a pagan, or who a Christian, since pagans married the 
daughters and kinswomen of Christians. These things they 
represented to the king, and endeavoured to dissuade him 
from entertaining them, lest they might, by some treacherous 
conspiracy, prove an overmatch for the native inhabitants. 
But Vortigern, who loved them above ail other nations on 
account of his wife, was deaf to their advice. For this reason 
the Britons quickly desert him, and unanimously set up Vorti- 
mer his son for their king ; who at their instigation began to 
drive out the barbarians, and to make dreadful incursions upon ' 
them. Four battles he fought with them, and was victorious 
in all : the first upon the river Dereuent ;* the second upon 
the ford of Epsford, where Horsa and Cajigern, another 
son of Vortigern, met and, after a sharp encounter, killed 
each other ;f the third upon the sea-shore, where the enemies 
fled shamefully to their ships, and betook themselves for 
refuge to the Isle of Thanet. But Vortimer besieged them 
there, and daily distressed them with his fleet. And when 
they were no longer able to bear the assaults of the Britons, 
they sent king Vortigern, who was present with them in all 
those wars, to his son Vortimer, to desire leave to depart, 
and return back safe to Germany. And while a confer- 
ence upon this subject was being held, they in the mean- 
time went on board their long galleys, and, leaving their 
wives and children behind them, returned back to Germany, 

* The Dereuent seems to be the Darent, a stream which gives its name 
to Dartford. 

t The very remarkable monument, called Kit Cotty's house, is tradition- 
ally supposed to mark the grave of Catigeni. 

*». 465,472.] VORTIMER POISONED. J 89 

Chap. XIV. — Vortimer's kindness to his soldiers at his death. 

Vortimer, after this great success, began to restore his sub- 
jects to their possessions which had been taken fiom them, 
and to show them all marks of his affection and esteem, and at 
the instanoe of St. Germanus to rebuild their churches. But 
his goodness quickly stirred up the enmity of the devil 
against him, who entering into the heart of his stepmother 
Rowen, excited her to contrive his death. For this purpose 
she consulted with the poisoners, and procured one who was 
intimate with him, whom she corrupted with large and 
numerous presents, to give him a poisonous draught ; so that 
this brave soldier, as soon as he had taken it, was seized with 
a sudden illness, that deprived him of all hopes of life. Here- 
upon he forthwith ordered all his men to come to him, and 
having shown them how near he was to his end, distributed 
among them all the treasure his predecessors had heaped up, 
and endeavoured to comfort them in their sorrow and lamen- 
tation for him, telling them, he was only going the way of 
all flesh. But he exhorted those brave and warlike young 
men, who had attended him in all his victories, to persist 
courageously in the defence of their country against all hostile 
invasion ; and with wonderful greatness of mind, commanded 
a brazen pyramid to be placed in the port where the Saxons 
used to land, and his body when dead to be buried on the 
top of it, that the sight of his tomb might frighten back the 
barbarians to Germany. For he said none of them would 
dare approach the country, that should but get a sight of his 
tomb. Such was the admirable bravery of this great man, 
who, as he had been a terror to them while living, en- 
deavoured to be no less so when dead. Notwithstanding 
which, he was no sooner dead, than the Britons had no 
regard to his orders, but buried him at London. 

Chap. XV. — Hengist, having wickedly murdered the princes of Britain, 
keeps Vortigern prisoner. 

VoRTiGERN, after the death of his son, was again restored to 
the kingdom, and at the request of his wife sent messengers 
into Germany to Hengist, with an invitation to return into 
Britain, but privately, and with a small retinue, to prevent a 
quarrel between the barbarians and his subjects^ But Hen* 

190 HKOKtlUll 8 tottlilSH HISTOKY. [too* n. cr. i& 

gist, hearing that Vortimer was dead, raised an army of no 
less than three hundred thousand mon, and fitting out a fleet 
returned with them to Britain. When Vortigern and the 
nobility heard of the arrivd of so vast a multitude, they were 
immoderately incensed, and, after consultation together, re- 
solved to fight them, and drive them from their coasts. 
Hengist, being informed of their design by messengers sent 
from his daughter, immediately entered into deliberation 
what course to pursue against them. After several strata- 
gems had been considered, he judged it most feasible, to im- 
pose upon the nation by making show of peace. With this 
view he sent ambassadors to the king, to declare to him, that 
he had not brought so great a number of men for the pur- 
pose either of staying with him, or offering any violence to 
the country. But the reason why he brought them, was 
because he thought Vortimer was yet living, and that he 
should have occasion for them against him, in case of an 
assault. But now since he no longer doubted of his being 
dead, he submitted himself and his people to the disposal of 
Vortigern ; so that he might retain as many of them as he 
should think fit, and whomsoever he rejected Hengist would 
allow to return back without delay to Germany. And if 
these terms pleased Vortigern, he desired him to appoint a 
time and place for their meeting, and adjusting matters 
according to his pleasure. When these things were repre- 
sented to the king, he was mightily pleased, as being very 
unwilling to part with Hengist ; and at last ordered his sub- 
jects and the Saxons to meet upon the kalends of May, which 
were now very near, at the monastery of Ambrius,* for the 
settling of the matters above mentioned. The appointment 
being agreed to on both sides, Hengist, with a new design of 
villany in his head, ordered his soldiers to carry every one 
of them a long dagger under their garments ; and while the 
conference should be held with the Britons, who would have 
no suspicion of them, he would give them this word of com- 
mand, " Nemet oure Saxas ;" at which moment they were all 
to be ready to seize boldly every one his next man, and with 
his drawn dagger stab him. Accordingly they all met at the 
time and place appointed, and began to treat of peace ; and 
When a fit opportunity offered for 3xecnting his vilboy, 

* Ambresbury. 

*o> 476.] SLAUGHTER OF BRITONS. 191 

Hciigist cried out, "Nemet oure Saxas," anl the sama in- 
stant seized Vortigern, and held him by his cloak. The 
Saxons, upon the signal given, drew their daggers, and fall- 
ing upon the princes, who little suspected any such design, 
assassinated them to the number of four hundred and sixty 
barons and consuls ; to whose bodies St. Eldad afterwards 
gave Christian burial, not far from Kaercaradauc, now Salis- 
bury, in a burying-place near the monastery of Ambrius, the 
abbat, who was the founder of it. For they all came without 
arms, haying no thoughts of anything but treating of peace ; 
which gave the others a fairer opportunity of exercising their 
villainous design against them. But the pagans did not 
escape unpunished while they acted this wickedness ; a great 
number of them being killed during this massacre of their 
enemies. For the Britons, taking up clubs and stones from 
the ground, resolutely defended themselves, and did good 
execution upon the traitors. 

Chap. XVI. — EldoV* valiant exploit. Hengist forces Vortigern to yield 
up the strongest fortifications in Britain, in consideration of his release. 

There was present one Eldol, consul* of Gloucester, who, 
at the sight of this treachery, took up a stake which he hap- 
pened to find, and with that made his defence. Every blow 
he gave carried death along with it ; and by oreaking 
either the head, arms, shoulders, or legs of a great many, he 
struck no small terror into the traitors, nor did he move from 
the spot before he had killed with that weapon seventy men. 
But being no longer able to stand his ground against such 
numbers, he made his escape from them, and retired to his 
own city. Many fell on both sides, but the Saxons got the 
victory ; because the Britons, having no suspicion of treachery, 
came unarmed, and therefore made a weaker defence. After 
the commission of this detestable villany, the Saxons would 
not kill Vortigern ; but having threatened him with death 
and bound him, demanded his cities and fortified places in 
consideration of their granting him his life. He, to secure 
himself, denied them nothing ; and when they had made him 
confirm his grants with an oath, they released him from his 
chains, and then marched first to London, which they took, 
as they did afterwards York, Lincoln, and Winchester ; 
* Thii term must be considered as equivalent to comes, count, or earL 

1 92 «rOFKREY*S BRITISH HISTORY. Ibom. ti. ca. IT. 

wasting the countries through which they passed, and de- 
stroying the people, as wolves do sheep when left by their 
shepherds. When Vortigern saw the desolation which they 
made, he retired into the parts of Cambria, not knowing 
what to do against so barbarous a people. 

Chap. XVII. — Vortigern, after consultation with magicians, orders a 
youth to be brought that never had a father. 

At last he had recourse to magicians for their advice, and 
commanded them to tell him what course to take. They 
advised him to build a very strong tower for his own safety, 
since he had lost all his other fortified places. Accordingly 
he made a progress about the country, to find out a conve- 
nient situation, and came at last to Mount Erir, where he 
assembled workmen from several countries, and ordered them 
to build the tower. The builders, therefore, began to lay 
the foundation ; but whatever they did one day the earth 
swallowed up the next, so as to leave no appearance of their 
work. Vortigern being informed of this again consulted 
with his magicians concerning the cause of it, who told him 
that he must find out a youth that never had a father, and 
kill him, and then sprinkle the stones and cement with his 
blood ; for by those means, they said, he would have a firm 
foundation. Hereupon messengers were despatched away 
over all the provinces, to inquire out such a man. In their 
travels they came to a city, called afterwards Kaermerdin, 
where they saw some young men, playing before the gate, 
and went up to them ; but being weary with their journey, 
they sat down in the ring, to see if they could meet with 
what they were in quest of. Towards evening, there hap- 
pened on a sudden a quarrel between two of the young men, 
whose names wer^ Merlin and Dabutius. In the dispute. 
Dabutius said to Merlin : " You fool, do you presume to 
quarrel with me ? Is there any equality in our birth ? I am 
descended of royal race, both by my father and mother's side. 
As for you, nobody knows what you arc, for you never had a 
father." At that word the messengers looked earnestly upon 
Merlin, and asked the by-standers who he was. They told 
him, it was not known who was his father ; but that his 
mother was daughter to the king of Dimetia, and that she 
lived in St. Peter's church anions the nuns of that city. 

a.* 477.] MERLIN'S ORIGIN (98 

Chap. XVIII.— Vortigern inquires of Merlin's mother concerning hur^S 
conception of him. 

Upon this the messengers hastened to the governor of thd 
city, and ordered him, in the king's name, to send Merlin and 
his mother to the king. As soon as the governor understood 
the occasion of their message, he readily obeyed the order, 
and sent them to Vortigern to complete his design. When 
they were introduced into the king's presence, he received 
the mother in a very respectful manner, on account of her 
noble birth ; and began to inquire of her by what man she 
had conceived. " My sovereign lord," said she, " by the life 
of your soul and mine, I know nobody that begot him of me. 
Only this I know, that as I was once with my companions in 
our chambers, there appeared to me a person in the shape of 
a most beautiful youcg man, who often embraced me eagerly 
in his arms, and kissed me ; and when he had stayed a little 
time, he suddenly vanished out of my sight. But many 
times after this he would talk with me when I sat alone, 
without making any visible appearance. When he had a 
long time haunted me in this manner, he at last lay with me 
several times in the shape of a man, and left me with child. 
And I do affirm to you, my sovereign lord, that excepting 
that young man, I know no body that begot him of 
me." The king full of admiration at this account, ordered 
Maugantius to be called, that he might satisfy him as to the 
possibility of what the woman had related. Maugantius, 
being introduced, and having the whole matter repeated to 
him, said to Vortigern : " In the books of our philosophers, 
and in a great many histories, I have found that several men 
have had the like original. For, as Apuleius informs us in 
his book concerning the Demon of Socrates, between the 
moon and the earth inhabit those spirits, which we will call 
incubuses. These are of the nature partly of men, and 
partly of angels, and whenever they please assume human 
shapes, and lie with women. Perhaps one of them appeared 
to this woman, and begot that young man of her." 

Chap. XIX. — Merlin's speech to the king's magicians, and advice about 
the building of the tower. 

Merlin in the meantime was attentive to all that had 
passed, and then approached the king, and said to him, " For 

194 Geoffrey's British history. wml to. oli. 

what reason am I and my mother introduced into your pre- 
sence ?" — "My magicians," answered Vortigern, "advised 
me to seek out a man that had no father, with whose blood 
my building is to be sprinkled, in order to make it stand.* — 
" Order your magicians," said Merlin, " to come before me, 
and I will convict them of a lie." The king was surprised 
at his words, and presently ordered the magicians to come, 
and sit down before Merlin, who spoke to them after thi» 
manner : " Because you are ignorant what it is that hinders 
the foundation of the tower, you have recommended the 
shedding of my blood for cement to it, as if that would pre- 
sently make it stand. But tell me now, what is there under 
the foundation ? For something there is that will not suffer 
it to stand." The magicians at this began to be afraid, and 
made him no answer. Then said Merlin, who was also called 
^Ambrose, "I entreat your majesty "would command your 
workmen to dig into the ground, and you will find a pond 
which causes the foundation to sink." This accordingly was 
done, and then presently they found a pond deep under 
ground, which had made it give way. Merlin after this went 
again to the magicians, and said, " Tell me ye false syco- 
phants, what is there under the pond." But they were 
silent. Then said he again to the king, " Command the pond 
to be drained, and at the bottom you will see two hollow 
stones, and in them two dragons asleep." The king made 
no scruple of believing him, since he had found true what 
he said of the pond, and therefore ordered it to be drained : 
which done, he found as Merlin had said ; and now was 
possessed with the greatest admiration of him. Nor were 
the Test that were present less amazed at his wisdom, think- 
ing it to be no less than divine inspiration. 



Chap. I,— Geoffrey of Monmouth's preface to Merlin's prophecy* 

I had not got thus far in my history, when the subject oi 
puMic discourse happening to be concerning Merlin, I was 
obliged to publish his prophecies at the request of my 


acquaintance, but especially of Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, 
a prelate of the greatest piety and wisdom. There was not 
any person, either among the clergy or laity, that was at- 
tended with such a train of knights and noblemen, whom 
his settled piety and great munificence engaged in his 
service. Out of a desire, therefore, to gratify him, I trans- 
lated these prophecies, and sent them to him with th* 
following letter. 

Chap. II. — Geoffrey's letter to Alexander, bishop of Lincoln 

" The regard which I owe to your great worth, most noble 
prelate, has obliged me to undertake the translation of Mer- 
lin's prophecies out, of British into Latin, before I had made 
an end of the history which I had begun concerning the acts 
of the British kings. For my design was to have finished 
that first, and afterwards to have taken this work in hand ;. 
lest by being engaged on both at once, I should be less 
capable of attending with any exactness to either. Notwith- 
standing, since the deference which is paid to your penetrat- 
ing judgment will screen me from censure^ I have employed 
my rude pen, and in a coarse style present you with a trans- 
lation out of a language with which you are unacquainted. 
At the same time, I cannot but wonder at your recommend- 
ing this matter to one of my low genius, when you might 
have caused so many men of greater learning, and a richer 
vein of intellect, to undertake it ; who, with their sublime 
strains, would much more agreeably have entertained you. 
Besides, without any disparagement to alji the philosophers 
in Britain, I must take the liberty to say, that you yourself, 
if the business of your high station would give you leisure, 
are capable of furnishing us with loftier productions of this 
kind than any^man living. However, since it was your 
pleasure that Geoffrey of Monmouth should be employed in 
this prophecy, he hopes you will favourably accept of his 
performance, and vouchsafe to give a finer turn to whatever 
you shall find unpolished, or otherwise faulty in it. 

Chap. III.— The prophecy of Merlin ^ 

As Vortigern, king of the Britons, was sitting upon the 
bank of the drained pond, the two dragons, one of which. 

o 2 

196 GF.OFF KEY'S BRITISH HISTORY. [aiox vn. ol Jl 

was white, the other red, cume forth, and, approaching one 
another, began a terrible fight, and cast forth fire with their 
breath. But the white dragon had the advantage, and made 
the other fly to the end of the lake. And he, for grief at 
his flight, renewed the assault upon his pursuer, and forced 
him to retire. After this battle of the dragons, the king 
commanded Ambrose Merlin to tell him what it portended* 
Upon which he^ bursting into tears, delivered what his pro- 
phetical spirit suggested to him, as follows : — * 

" Woe to the red dragon, for his banishment hasteneth on. 
His lurking holes shall be siezed by the white dragon, which 
signifies the Saxons whom y6u invited over; but tht, ~<*l 
denotes the British nation, which shall be oppressed by 
the white. Therefore shall its mountains be levelled as the 
valleys, and the rivers of the valleys shall run with blood. % 
The exercise of religion shall be destroyed, and churche* 
be laid open to ruin. At last the oppressed shall prevail, 
and oppose the cruelty of foreigners. For a boar of Corn- 
wall shall give his assistance, and trample their necks under 
Ids feet. The islands of the ocean shall be subject to his 
power, and he shall possess the forests of Gaul. The house 
of Romulus shall dread his courage, and his end shall be 
doubtful. He shall be celebrated in the mouths of the 
people ; and his exploits shall be food to those that relate them. 
Six of his posterity shall sway the sceptre, but after them 
shall arise a German worm. He shall be advanced by a sea- 
wolf, whom the woods of Africa shall accompany. Religion 
shall be again abolished, and there shall be a translation of 
the metropolitan sees. The dignity of London shall adorn 
Dorobernia, and the seventh pastor of York shall be resorted 
to in the kingdom of Armorica. Menevia shall put on the 
pall of the City of Legions, and a preacher of Ireland shall 
be dumb on account of an infant growing in the womb. It 
shall rain a shower of blood, and a raging famine shall afflict 
mankind. When these things happen, the red one shall be 

* The prophecy which follows has been commented on by varioia 
writers, who have taken the trouble to point out the events in English his- 
tory which answer to the various predictions which it contains. Such 
labour seems to be altogether superfluous in the present day : the prophecy 
may be allowed to remain as an illustration of the absurd credulity oi 
former times. 

*.». «UJ MF.RL1X S PROPHECY.' ly? . 

grieved ; but when his fatigue is over, shall grow strong. 
Then shall misfortunes hasten upon the white one. 
and the buildings of his gardens shall be pulled down. 
Seven that sway the sceptre shall be killed, one of whom 
shall become a saint. The wombs of mothers shall be ripped 
up, and infants be abortive. There shall be a most grievous 
punishment of men, that the natives may be restored. He 
that shall do these things shall put on the brazen man, and 
upon a brazen horse shall for a long time guard the gates of 
London. After this, shall the red dragon return to hi9 
proper manners, and turn his rage upon himself. Therefore 
shall the revenge of the Thunderer show itself, for every 
field shall disappoint the husbandmen. Mortality shall 
snatch away the people, and make a desolation over all 
countries. The remainder shall quit their native soil, and 
make foreign plantations. A blessed king shall prepare a 
fleet, and shall be reckoned the twelfth in the court among the 
saints. There shall be a miserable desolation of the king- 
dom, and the floors of the harvests shall return to the fruit- 
ful forests. The white dragon shall rise again, and invite 
over a daughter of Germany. Our gardens shall be again 
replenished with foreign seed, and the red one shall pine 
away at the end of the pond. After that, shall the German 
worm be crowned, and the brazen prince buried. He has 
his bounds assigned him, which he shall not be able to pass. 
For a hundred and fifty years ha shall continue in trouble 
and subjection, but shall bear sway three hundred. Then 
shall the north wind rise against him, and shall snatch away 
the flowers which the west wind produced. There shall be 
gilding in the temples, nor shall the edge of the sword cease. 
The German dragon shall hardly get to his holes, because the 
revenge of his treason shall overtake him. At last he shall 
flourish for a little time, but the decimation of Neustria shall 
hurt him. For a people in wood and in iron coats shall 
come, and revenge upon him his wickedness. They shall 
restore the ancient inhabitants to their dwellings, and there 
shall be an open destruction of foreigners. The seed of the 
white dragon shall be swept out of our gardens, and the 
remainder of his generation shall be decimated. They shall 
bear the yoke of slavery, and wound their mother with 
spades and ploughs. After this shall succeed two dragons. 

498 Geoffrey's British history. t** 

whereof one shall he killed with the sting of envy, but the 
other shall return under the shadow of a name. Then shall 
succeed a lion of justice, at whose roar the Gallican towers 
and the island dragons shall tremble. In those days gold 
shall be squeezed from the lily and the nettle, and silver shall 
flow from the hoofs of bellowing cattle. The frizzled shall 
put on various fleeces, and the outward habit denote the in- 
ward parts. The feet of barkers shall be cut off; wild 
beasts shall enjoy peace ; mankind shall be grieved at their; 
punishment; the form of commerce shall be divided; the 
half shall be round. The ravenousness of kites shall be de- 
stroyed, and the teeth of wolves blunted. The lion's whelps 
shall be transformed into sea-fishes ; and an eagle shall build 
her nest upon Mount Aravius. Venedotia shall grow red 
with the blood of mothers, and the house of Corineus kill 
six brethren. The island shall be wet with night tears ; so 
that all shall be provoked to all things. Woe to thee, Neus- 
tria, because the lion's brain shall be poured upon thee ; and 
he shall be banished with shattered limbs from his native 
soil. Posterity shall endeavour to fly above the high- 
est places ; but the favour of new comers shall be exalted. 
Piety shall hurt the possessor of things got by impiety, till 
he shall have put on his Father : therefore, being armed with 
the teeth of a boar, he shall ascend above the tops of moun- 
tains, and the shadow of him that wears a helmet. Albania 
shall be enraged, and, assembling her neighbours, shall be 
employed in shedding blood. There shall be put into her 
jaws a bridle that shall be made on the coast of Armorica. 
The eagle of the broken covenant shall gild it over, and re- 
joice in her third nest. The roaring whelps shall watch, 
and, leaving the woods, shall hunt within the walls of cities. 
They shall make no small slaughter of those that oppose 
them, and shall cut off the tongues of bulls. They shall 
load the necks of roaring lions with chains, and restore the 
times of their ancestors. Then from the first to the fourth, 
from the fourth to the third, from the third to the second, 
the thumb shall roll in oil. The sixth shall overturn the 
walls of Ireland, and change the woods into a plain. He 
shall reduce several parts to one, and be crowned with the 
head of a lion. His beginning shall lay open to wandering 
refection, but his end shall carry him up to the blessed, who 


are above. For he shall restore the seats of saints in their 
countries, and settle pastors in convenient places. Two 
cities he shall invest with two palls, and shall bestow virgin- 
presents upon virgins. He shall merit by this the favour of 
the Thunderer, and shall be placed among the saints. From 
him shall proceed a lynx penetrating all things, who shall be 
bent upon the ruin of his own nation; for, through him, 
Neustria shall lose both islands, and be deprived of its 
ancient dignity. Then shall the natives return back to the 
island ; for there shall arise a dissension among foreigners. 
Also a hoary old man, sitting upon a snow-white horse, 
shall turn the course of the river Periron, and shall measure 
out a mill upon it with a white rod. Cadwallader shall call 
upon Conan, and take Albania into alliance. Then shall 
there be a slaughter of foreigners ; then shall the rivers run 
with blood. Then shall break forth the fountains of Anno- 
rica, and they shall be crowned with the diadem of Brutus. 
Cambria shall be filled with joy ; and the oaks of Cornwall 
shall flourish. The island shall be called by the name of 
Brutus: and the name given it by foreigners shall be 
abolished. From Conan shall proceed a warlike boar, that 
shall exercise the sharpness of his tusks within the Gallic 
woods. For he shall cut down all the larger oaks, and shall 
be a defence to the smaller. The Arabians and Africans 
shall dread him ; for he shall pursue his furious course to 
the farther part of Spain. There shall succeed the goat of 
the Venereal castle, having golden horns and a silver beard, 
who shall breathe such a cloud out of his nostrils, as shall 
darken the whole surface of the island. There shall be 
peace in his time ; and corn shall abound by reason of the 
fruitfulness of the soil. Women shall become serpents in 
their gait, and all their motions shall be full of pride. The 
camp of Venus shall be restored ; nor shall the arrows ot 
Cupid cease to wound. The fountain of a river shall be 
turned into blood ; and two kings shall fight a duel at Staf- 
ford for a lioness. Luxury shall overspread the whole 
ground ; and fornication cot cease to debauch mankind. All 
these things shall three ages see ; till the buried kings shall 
be exposed to public view in the city of London. Famine shall 
again return; mortality shall return; and the inhabitants 
shall grieve for the destruction of their cities. Then shall 

200 Geoffrey's British history. [bouktq.cb.^ 

come the board of commerce, who shall recall the scattered 
flocks to the pasture they had lost. His breast shall be food 
to the hungry, and his tongue drink to the thirsty. Out 01 
his mouth shall flow rivers, that shall water the parched jaws 
of men. After this shall be produced a tree upon the 
Tower of London, which, having no more than three 
branches, shall overshadow the surface of the whole island 
with the breadth of its leaves. Its adversary, the north 
wind, shall come upon it, and with its noxious blast shall 
snatch away the third branch ; but the two remaining ones 
shall possess its place, till they shall destroy one another 
by the multitude of their leaves; and then shall it ob- 
tain the place of those two, and shall give sustenance to 
birds of foreign nations. It shall be esteemed hurtful to 
native fowls ; for they shall not be able to fly freely for fear 
of its shadow. There shall succeed the ass of wickedness, 
swift against the goldsmiths, but slow against the ravenous- 
ness of wolves. In those days the oaks of the forests shall 
burn, and acorns grow upon the branches of teil trees. 
The Severn sea shall discharge itself through seven mouths, 
and the river Uske burn seven months. Fishes shall die 
with the heat thereof; and of them shall be engendered 
serpents. The baths of Badon shall grow cold, and their 
salubrious waters engender death. London shall mourn for 
the death of twenty thousand ; and the river Thames shall 
be turned into blood. The monks in their cowls shall be 
forced to marry, and their cry shall be heard upon the 
mountains of the Alps." 

Chap. IV. — The continuation of the prophecy. 

" Three springs shall break forth in the city of Winchester, 
whose rivulets shall divide the island into three parts. 
Whoever shall drink of the first, shall enjoy long life, and 
shall never be afflicted with sickness. He that shall drink 
of the second, shall die of hunger, and paleness and horror 
shall sit in his countenance. He that shall drink of the 
third, shall be surprised with sudden death, neither shall his 
body be capable of burial. Those that are willing to escape 
so great a surfeit, will endeavour to hide it with several 
coverings . but whatever bulk shall be laid upon it, shall 

A.D.480J merlin's prophecy. 201 

receive the form of another body. For earth shall be turned 
into stones ; stones into water ; wood into ashes ; ashes into 
water, if cast over it. Also a damsel shall te sent from the 
city of the forest of Canute to administer a cure, who, after 
she shall have practised all her arts, shall dry up the noxious 
fountains only with her breath. Afterwards, as soon as she 
shall have refreshed herself with the wholesome liqour, she 
shall bear in her right hand the wood of Caledon, and in her 
left the forts of the walls of London. Wherever she shall 
go, she shall make sulphureous steps, which will smoke with 
a double flame. That smoke shall rouse up the city of 
Euteni, and shall make food for the inhabitants of the deep. 
She shall overflow with rueful tears, and shall fill the island 
with her dreadful cry. She shall be killed by a hart with 
ten branches, four of which shall bear golden diadems ; but 
the other six shall be turned into buffalo's horns, whose 
hideous sound shall astonish the three islands of Britain. 
The Daneian wood shall be stirred up, and breaking forth 
into a human voice, shall cry : Come, O Cambria, and join 
Cornwall to thy side, and say to Winchester, the earth shall 
swallow thee up. Translate the seat of thy pastor to the 
place where ships come to harbour, and the rest of the 
members will follow the head. For the day hasteneth, in 
which thy citizens shall perish on account of the guilt of 
perjury. The whiteness of wool has been hurtful to thee, 
and the variety of its tinctures. Woe to the perjured nation, 
for whose sake the renowned city shall come to ruin. The 
ships shall rejoice at so great an augmentation, and one shall 
be made out of two. It shall be rebuilt by Eric, loaden with 
apples, to the smell whereof the birds of several woods shall 
flock together. He shall add to it a vast palace, and wall it 
round with six hundred towers. Therefore shall London 
envy it, and triply increase her walls. The river Thames 
shall encompass it round, and the fame of the work shall pass 
beyond the Alps. Eric shall hide his apples within it, and 
shall make subterraneous passages. At that time shall the 
stones speak, and the sea towards the Gallic coast be con- 
tracted into a narrow space. On each bank shall one man 
hear another, and the soil of the island shall be enlarged. 
The secrets of the deep shall be revealed, and Gaul shall 
tremble for fear. After these things shall come forth a hern 


from the- forest of Calaterium, which shall fly round the 
island for two years together. With her nocturnal cry she 
shall call together the winged kind, and assemble to her all 
sorts of fowls. They shall invade the tillage of husbandmen, 
and devour all the grain of the harvests. Then shall follow 
a famine upon the people, and a grievous mortality upon the 
famine. But when this calamity shall be over, a detestable 
bird shall go to the valley of Galabes, and shall raise it to 
be a high mountain. Upon the top thereof it shall also plant 
an oak, and build its nest in its branches. Three eggs shall 
be produced in the nest, from whence shall come forth a fox, 
a wolf, and a bear. The fox shall devour her mother, and 
bear the head of an ass. In this monstrous form shall she 
frighten her brothers, and make them fly into Neustria. But 
they shall stir up the tusky boar, and returning in a fleet 
shall encounter with the fox ; who at the beginning of the 
fight shall feign herself dead, and move the boar to com- 
passion. Then shall the boar approach her carcass, and 
standing over her, shall breathe upon her face and eyes. 
But she, not forgetting her cunning, shall bite his left foot, 
and pluck it off from his body. Then shall she leap upon 
him, and snatch away his right ear and tail, and hide herself 
in the caverns of the mountains. Therefore shall the deluded 
boar require the wolf and bear to restore him his members ; 
who, as soon as they shall enter into the cause, shall promise 
two feet of the fox, together with the ear and tail, and of 
these they shall make up the members of a hog. With thi* 
he shall be satisfied, and expect the promised restitution. 
In the meantime shall the fox descend from the mountains, 
and change herself into a wolf, and under pretence of holding 
a conference with the boar, she shall go to him, and craftily 
devour him. After that she shall transform herself into a 
boar, and feigning a loss of some members, shall wait for her 
brothers ; but as soon as they are come, she shall suddenly 
kill them with her tusks, and shall be crowned with the head 
of a lion. In her days shall a serpent be brought forth, 
which shall be a destroyer of mankind. With its length it 
shall encompass London, and devour all that pass by it. The 
mountain ox shall take the head of a wolf, and whiten his 
teeth in the Severn. He shall gather to him the flocks of Alba- 
nia and Cambria, which shall drink the river Thames dry. 

*.». 480.] merlin's prophecy 203 

The ass shall call the goat with the long beard, and shall 
borrow his shape. Therefore shall the mountain ox be 
incensed, and having called the wolf, shall become a horned 
bull against them. In the exercise of his cruelty he shall 
devour their flesh and bones, but shall be burned upon the 
top of Urian. The ashes of his funeral-pile shall be turned 
into swans, that shall swim on dry ground as on a river. 
They shall devour fishes in fishes, and swallow up men in 
men. But when old age shall come upon them, they shall 
become sea-wolves, and practise their frauds in the deep. 
They shall drown ships, and collect no small quantity of 
silver. The Thames shall again flow, and assembling 
together the rivers, shall pass beyond the bounds of its 
channel. It shall cover the adjacent cities, and overturn 
the mountains that oppose its course. Being full of deceit 
and wickedness, it shall make use of the fountain Galabes. 
Hence shall arise factions provoking the Venedotians to war. 
The oaks of the forest shall meet together, and encounter the 
rocks of the Gewisseans. A raven shall attend with the 
kites, and devour the carcasses of the slain. An owl shall 
build her nest upon the walls of Gloucester, and in her nest 
shall be, brought forth an ass. The serpent of Malvernia 
shall bring him up, and put him upon many fraudulent prac- 
tices. Having taken the crown, he shall ascend on high, and 
frighten the people of the country with his hideous braying. 
In his days shall the Pachaian mountains tremble, and the 
provinces be deprived of their woods. For there shall come 
a worm with a fiery breath, and with the vapour it sends 
forth shall burn up the trees. Out of it shall proceed seven 
lions deformed with the heads of goats. With the stench 
of their nostrils they shall corrupt women, and make wives 
turn common prostitutes. The father shall not know his 
own son, because they shall grow wanton like brute beasts. 
Then shall come the giant of wickedness, and terrify all with 
the sharpness of his eyes. Against him shall arise the 
dragon of Worcester, and shall endeavour to banish him. 
But in the engagement the dragon shall be worsted, and 
oppressed by the wickedness of the conqueror. For he shall 
mount upon the dragon, and putting off his garment shall sit 
upon him naked. The dragon shall bear him up on high, 
and beat his naked rider with his tail erected. Upon this 

204 Geoffrey's British history [boob *h. <*. 4 

the giant rousing up his whole strength, shall break his jaws 
with his sword. At last the dragon shall fold itself up 
under its tail, and die of poison. After him shall succeed 
the boar of Totness, and oppress the people with grievous 
tyranny. Gloucester shall send forth a lion, and shall 
disturb him in his cruelty, in several battles. He shall 
trample him under his feet, and terrify him with open jaws. 
At last the lion shall quarrel with the kingdom, and get upon 
the backs of the nobility. A bull shall come into the quarrel, 
and strike the lion with his right foot. He shall drive him 
through all the inns in the kingdom, but shall break his 
horns against the walls of Oxford. The fox of Kaerdubalem 
shall take revenge on the lion, and destroy him entirely with 
her teeth. She shall be encompassed by the adder of Lincoln, 
who with a horrible hiss shall give notice of his presence to 
a multitude of dragons. Then shall the dragons encounter, 
and tear one another to pieces. The winged shall oppress 
that which wants wings, and fasten its claws into the 
poisonous cheeks. Others shall come into the quarrel, and 
kill one another. A fifth shall succeed those that are slain, 
and by various stratagems shall destroy the rest. He shall 
get upon the back of one with his sword, and sever his head 
from his body. Then throwing off his garment, he shall get 
upon another, and put his right and left hand upon his tail. 
Thus being naked shall he overcome him, whom when 
clothed he was not able to deal with. The rest he shall 
gall in their flight, and drive them round the kingdom. 
Upon this shall come a roaring lion dreadful for his 
monstrous cruelty. Fifteen parts shall he reduce to one, 
and shall alone possess the people. The giant of the snow- 
white colour shall shine, and cause the white people to 
flourish. Pleasures shall effeminate the princes, and they 
shall suddenly be changed into beasts. Among them shall 
arise a lion swelled with human gore. Under him shall a 
reaper be placed in the standing corn, who, while he is 
reaping, shall be oppressed by him. A charioteer of York 
shall appease them, and having banished his lord, shall 
mount upon the chariot which he shall drive. With his 
•word unsheathed shall he threaten the East, and fill the 
\racks of his wheels with blood. Afterwards he shall 
become a sea-fish, who, being roused up with the hissing 

A.n.480.] MERLIN'S PROPHECY. 205 

of a serpent, shall engende: with. him. From hence shall 
be produced three thundering bulls, who having eaten up 
their pastures shall be turned into trees. The first 
shall carry a whip of vipers, and turn his back upon 
the next. He shall endeavour to snatch away the whip, 
but shall be taken by the last. They shall turn away their 
faces from, one another, till they have thrown away the 
poisoned cup. To him shall succeed a husbandman of 
Albania, at whose back shall be a serpent. He shall be 
employed in ploughing the ground, that the country may 
become white with corn. The serpent shall endeavour to 
diffuse his poison, in order to blast the harvest. A grievous 
mortality shall sweep away the people, and the walls of cities 
shall be made desolate. There shall be given for a remedy 
the city of Claudius, which shall interpose the nurse of the 
scourger. For she shall bear a dose of medicine, and in a 
short time the island shall be restored. Then shall two 
successively sway the sceptre, whom a horned dragon shall 
serve. One shall come in armour, and shall ride upon a 
flying serpent. He shall sit upon his back with his naked 
body, and cast his right hand upon his tail. With his cry 
shall the seas be moved, and he shall strike terror into the 
second. The second therefore shall enter into confederacy 
with the lion ; but a q arrel happening, they shall encounter 
one another. They shall distress one another, but the 
courage of the beast shall gain the advantage. Then shall 
come one with a drum, and appease the rage of the lion. 
Therefore shall the people of the kingdom bo at peace, and 
provoke the lion to a dose of physic. In his established seat 
he shall adjust the weights, but shall stretch out his hands 
into Albania. For which reason the northern provinces 
shall be grieved, and open the gates of the temples. The 
sign-bearing wolf shall lead his troops, and surround 
Cornwall with his tail. He shall be opposed by a soldier in 
a chariot, who shall transform that people into a boar. The 
boar shall therefore ravage the provinces, but shall hide his 
head in the depth of Severn. A man shall embrace a lion 
in wine, and the dazzling brightness of gold shall blind the 
eyes of beholders. Silver shall whiten in the circumference, 
and torment several wine presses. Men shall be drunk with 
wine, and, regardless of heaven, shall be intent upon the 

206 GEOFFREY'S BRITISH HISTORY. Lbook mi. ca 1. 

earth. From them shall the stars turn away their faces, and 
confound their usual course. Corn will wither at thcii 
malign aspects ; and there shall fall no dew from heaven. 
The roots and branches will change their places, and the 
novelty of the thing shall pass for a miracle. The brightness 
of the sun shall fade at the amber of Mercury, and horror 
shall seize the beholders. Stilbon of Arcadia shall change 
his shield ; the helmet of Mars shall call Venus. The 
helmet of Mars shall make a shadow ; and the rage of 
Mercury pass his bounds. Iron Orion shall unsheath his 
sword : the marine Phoebus shall torment the clouds ; 
Jupiter shall go . out of his lawful paths ; and Venus 
forsake her stated lines. The malignity of the star Saturn 
shall fall down in rain, and slay mankind with a crooked 
sickle. The twelve houses of the star shall lament the 
irregular excursions of their guests ; and Gemini omit their 
usual embraces, and call the urn to the fountains. The 
scales of Libra shall hang obliquely, till Aries puts his 
crooked horns under them. The tail of Scorpio shall 
produce lightning, and Cancer quarrel with the Sun. 
Virgo shall mount upon the back of Sagittarius, And 
darken her virgin flowers. The chariot of the Moon 
shall disorder the zodiac, and the Pleiades break forth 
into weeping. No offices of Janus shall hereafter return, 
but his gate being shut shall lie hid in the chinks of 
Ariadne. The seas shall rise up in the twinkling of an 
eye, and the dust of the ancients shall be restored. The 
winds shall fight together with a dreadful blast, and their 
sound shall reach the stars. 


Chap. 1. — Vortigern asks Merlin concerning his own death. 

Merlin, by delivering these and many other prophecies, 
caused in all that were present an admiration at the ambiguity 
of his expressions. But Vortigern above all the rest both 
admired and applauded the wisdom, and prophetical spirit oi 

A.D.484. merlin's prophlcy. 207 

the young man : for that age had produced none that eve* 
talked in such a manner before him. Being therefore curious 
to learn his own fate, he desired the young man to tell him 
what he knew concerning that particular. Merlin answered : 
— " Fly the fire of the sons of Constantine, if you are able to 
do it : already are they fitting out their ships : already are they 
leaving theArmorican shore : already are they spreading out 
their sails to the wind. They will steer towards Britain : they 
will invade the Saxon nation : they will subdue that wicked 
people ; but they will first burn you being shut up in a tower. * 
To your own ruin did you prove a traitor to their father, and 
invite the Saxons into the island. You invited them for your 
safeguard ; but they came for a punishment to you. Two 
deaths instantly threaten you ; nor is it easy to determine, 
which you can best avoid. For on the one hand the Saxons 
shall lay waste your country, and endeavour to kill you : on the 
other shall arrive the two brothers, Aurelius Ambrosius and 
Uther Pg ndragon, whose business will be to revenge their 
father^ murder upon you. Seek out some refuge if you can : 
to-morrow they will be on the shore of Totness. The 
faces of the Saxons shall look red with blood, Hengist shall 
be killed, and Aurelius Ambrosius shall be crowned. He 
shall bring peace to the nation ; he shall restore the churches ; 
but shall die of poison. His brother Uther Pendragon shall 
succeed him, whose days also shall be cut short by poison. 
There shall be present at the commission of this treason your 
own issue, whom the boar of Cornwall shall devour." Accord- 
ingly the next day early, arrived Aurelius Ambrosius ai?£ 
his brother, with ten thousand men. 

Chap. II. — Aurelius Ambrosius, being anointed king of Britain, bunt* 
Voriigem besieged in a tower \ 

As soon as the news of his coming was divulged, the Britons, 
who had been dispersed by their great calamities, met together 
irom all parts, and gaining this new accession of strength 
from their countrymen, displayed unusual vigour. Having 
assembled together the clergy, they anointed Aurelius king, 
and paid him the customary homage. And when the people 
were urgent to fall upon the Saxons, he dissuaded them from 
it, because his desire was to pursue Vortigern first. For the 
treason committed against his father so very much affected 

$08 OEOrrnErs British history. [«xm m 

him, that he thought nothing done till that was first avenged. 
In pursuance therefore of this design, he marched with his 
army into Cambria, to the town of Genoreu, whither Vorti- 
gern had fled for refuge. That town was in the country of 
Hergin, upon the river Gania, in the mountain called 
Cloarius. As soon as Ambrosius was arrived there, bearing 
in his mind the murder of his father and brother, he spake 
thus to Eldol, duke of Gloucester, 

u See, most noble duke, whether the walls of this city are 
able to protect Vortigern against my sheathing this sword in 
his bowels. He deserves to die, and you cannot, I suppose, 
be ignorant of his desert. Oh most villainous of men, whose 
crimes deserve inexpressible tortures ! First he betrayed my 
father Constautine, who had delivered him and his country 
from the inroads of the Picts ; afterwards my brother Con- 
fitans whom he made king on purpose to destroy him. Again, 
when by his craft he had usurped the crown, he introduced 
pagans among the natives, in order to abuse those who con- 
tinued stedfast in their loyalty to me : but by the good pro- 
vidence of God, he unwarily fell into the snare, which he 
had laid for my faithful subjects. For the Saxons, when 
they found him out in his wickedness, drove him from the 
kingdom ; for which nobody ought to be concerned. But 
this I think matter of just grief, that this odious people, 
whom that detestable traitor invited over, has expelled the 
nobility, laid waste a fruitful country, destroyed the holy 
churches, and almost extinguished Christianity over the 
whole kingdom. Now, therefore, my countrymen, show 
yourselves men ; first revenge yourselves upon him that was 
the occasion of all these disasters ; then let us turn our 
arms against our enemies, and free our country from their 
brutish tyranny.* 

Immediately, therefore, they set their engines to work, 
and laboured to beat down the walls. But at last, when all 
other attempts failed, they had recourse to fire, which meet- 
ing with proper fuel, ceased not to rage, till it had burned 
down the tower and Vortigeri in it. 

t487.] AURELIUS'S VALOUR. 209 

Chap. III. — The praise of AureRus's vaUmr. The levity of the Soots 
exposed. Forces raised against Hengist. 

Hengist, with his Saxons, was struck with terror at this 
news, for he dreaded the valour of Aurelius. Such was the 
bravery an<J courage this prince was master of, that while 
he was in Gaul, there was none that durst encounter with 
him. For in all encounters he either dismounted his adver- 
sary, or broke his spear. Besides, he was magnificent in his 
presents, constant at his devotions, temperate in all respects, 
and above all things hated a lie. A brave soldier on foot, a 
better on horseback, and expert in the discipline of an army. 
Reports of these his noble accomplishments, while he yet 
continued in Armorican Britain; were daily brought over into 
the island. Therefore, the Saxons, for fear of him, retired 
beyond the Humber, and in those parts fortified the cities 
and towns ; for that country always was a place of refuge to 
them ; their safety lying in the neighbourhood of Scotland, 
which used to watch all opportunities of distressing the 
nation ; for that country being in itself a frightful place 
to live in, and wholly uninhabited, had been a safe retreat 
for strangers. By its situation it lay open to the Picts, Scots, 
Dacians, Norwegians, and others, that came to plunder the 
island. Being, therefore, secure of a safe reception in this 
country, they fled towards it, that, if there should be occa- 
sion, they might retreat into it as into their own camp. This 
was good news to Aurelius, and made him conceive greater 
hopes of victory. So assembling his people quickly together, 
he augmented his army, and made an expeditious march 
towards the north. In his passage through the countries, 
he was grieved to see the desolation made in them, but 
especially that the churches were levelled with the ground ; 
and he promised to rebuild them, if he gained the victory. 

Chap. IV.— Hengist marches with his army against Aurelius, into the 
field qfMaisbelu 

But Hengist, upon his approach, took courage again) and 
chose out the bravest of his men, whom he exhorted to make 
a gallant defence, and not be daunted at Aurelius, who, he 
tofd them, had but few Armorican Britons with him, since 
their number did not exceed ten thousand. And as for the 

210 Geoffrey's British history. [book tvl <». 5, 

native Britons, he made no account of them, since they had 
teen so often defeated by him* He therefore promised them 
the victory, and that they should come off safely, considering 
the superiority of their number, which amounted to two 
hundred thousand men in arms. After he had in this manner 
-animated his men, he advanced with them towards Aurelius, 
Into a field called Maisbeli, through which Aurelius was to 
pass. For his intention was to make a sudden assault by a 
surprise, and fall upon the Britons before they were prepared. 
But Aurelius perceived the design, and yet did not, on that 
^account, delay going to the field, but rather pursued his 
march with more expedition. When he was come within 
sight of the enemy, he put his troops in order, commanding 
three thousand Armoricans to attend the cavalry,, and drew 
«ut the rest together with the islanders into line of battle. 
The Dimetians he placed upon the hills, and the Vene- 
dotians in the adjacent woods. His reason for which was, 
that they might be there ready to fall upon the Saxons, in 
case they should fee in that direction. 

Chap. V. — A battle between Aurelius and Hengist, . 

In the meantime, Eldol, duke of Gloucester, went to the 
king, and said, " This one day should suffice for all the days 
of my life, if by good providence I could but get an oppor^ 
tunity to engage with Hengist ; for one of us should die 
before we parted. I still retain deeply fixed in my memory 
the day appointed for our peaceably treating together, but 
which he villainously made use of to assassinate all that were 
;vesent at the treaty, except myself only, who stood upon my 
uefence with a stake which I accidentally found, until I made 
my escape. That very day proved fatal, through his treachery, 
to no less than four hundred and sixty barons and consuls, 
^who all went unarmed. From that conspiracy God was 
» pleased to deliver me, by throwing a stake in my way, where- 
with I defended myself and escaped." Thus spoke Eldol. 
"Then Aurelius exhorted his companions to place all their 
hope in the Son of God, and to make a brave assault with 
one consent upon the enemy, in defence of their country. 
Nor was Hengist less busy on the other hand in forming his 
troops, and giving them directions how to behave themselves 
in the battle ; and he walked himself through their several 


ranks, the more to spirit them up. At last, both armies, 
being drawn out in order of battle, began the attack, which 
they maintained with great bravery, and no small loss of 
blood, both to the Britons and Saxons. Aurelius animated 
the Christians, Hengist the pagans ; and all the time of the 
engagement, Eldol's chief endeavour was to encounter Hen- 
gist, but he had no opportunity for it. For Hengist, when 
he found that his own men were routed, and that the Chris- 
tians, by the especial favour of God, had the advantage, fled 
to the town called Kaerconan, now Cunungeburg. Aurelius 
pursued him, and either killed or made slaves of all he found 
in the way. When Hengist saw that he was pursued by 
Aurelius, he would not enter the town, but assembled his 
troops, and prepared them to stand another engagement. 
For he knew the town would not hold out against Aurelius, 
and that his whole security now lay in his sword. At last 
Aurelius overtook him, and after marshalling his forces, be- 
gan another most furious fight. And here the Saxons 
steadily maintained their ground, notwithstanding the num- 
bers that fell. On both sides therei was a great slaughter, 
the groans of the dying causing a greater rage in those that 
survived. In short, the Saxons would have gained the day, 
had not a detachment of horse from the Armorican Britons 
. ^bome in upon them. . For Aurelius had appointed them the 
. sdme station which they had in the former battle ; so that, 
upon their advancing, the Saxons gave ground, and when 
once a little dispersed, were not able to rally again. The 
Britons, encouraged by this advantage, exerted them- 
selves, and laboured with all their might to distress the 
enemy. All the time Aurelius was fully employed, not only 
in giving commands, but encouraging his men by his own 
example ; for with his own hand he killed all that stood in 
his way, and pursued those that fled. Nor was Eldol less 
active in all parts of the field, running to aid fro to assault 
his adversaries 5 but still his main endeavour was to find 
opportunity of encountering Hengist. 

Chap. VI. — Hengist, in a duel with Eldol, is tarcen by him. The Saxons 
are slain by the Britons without mercy. 

As there were therefore several movements made by the 
parties engaged on each side, an opportunity occurred for their 


212 Geoffrey's British history. Fbook Tin. en. % 

meeting, and briskly engaging each other. In this encounter 
of the two greatest champions in the field, the fire sparkled 
with the clashing of their arms, and every stroke in a manner 
produced both thunder and lightning. For a long time was the 
victory in suspense, as it seemed sometimes to favour the one, 
sometimes the other. While they were thus hotly engaged, 
Gorlois, duke of Cornwall, came up to them with the party he- 
commanded, and did great execution upon the enemies' troops. 
At the sight of him, Eldol, assured of victory, seized on the 
helmet of Hengist, and by main force dragged him in among 
the Britons, and then in transports of joy cried out with a 
loud voice, " God has fulfilled my desire ! My brave soldiers, 
down, down, with your enemies the Ambrons.* The victory 
is now in your hands : Hengist is defeated, and the day is 
your own." In the meantime the Britons failed not to per- 
form every one his part against the pagans, upon whom they 
made many vigorous assaults ; and though they were obliged 
sometimes to give ground, yet their courage did not fail them 
in making a good resistance ; so that they gave the enemy 
no respite till they had vanquished them. The Saxons- 
therefore fled whithersoever their consternation hurried them, 
some to the cities, some to the woods upon the hills, and 
others to their ships. But Octa, the son of Hengist, made 
his retreat with a great body of men to York : and Eosa, 
his kinsman, to the city of Alclud, where he had a very large 
army for his guard. 

Chap. YIL— Hengist is beheaded by Eldol. 

Aubelius, after this victory, took the city of Conan above- 
mentioned, and stayed there three days. During this time 
he gave orders for the burial of the slain, for curing the 
wounded, and for the ease and refreshment of his forces that 
were fatigued. Then he called a council of his principal 
officers, to deliberate what was to be done with Hengist* 
There was present at the assembly Eldad, bishop of Glouces- 
ter, and brother of Eldol, a prelate of very great wisdom 
and piety. As soon as he beheld Hengist standing in the 
king's presence, he demanded silence, and said, " Though all 
should be unanimous for setting him at liberty, yet would I 

* The meaning of this word is doubtful ; it is applied to the Saxons, 
and fttotabl? if descriptive of their fierce and savafle character. 


cut him to pieces. The prophet Samuel is my warrant, who, 
when he had Agag, king of Amalek, in his power, hewed 
him in pieces, saying, As thy* sword hath made women child- 
less, so shall thy mother be childless among women. Do 
therefore the same to Hengist, who is a second Agag." 
Accordingly Eldol took his sword, and drew him out of th 
city, and then cut off his head. But Aurelius, who showed 
moderation in all his conduct, commanded him to be buried, 
and a heap of earth to be raised over his body, according tc 
the custom of the pagans. 

Chat. VIII. — Octa, being besieged in York, surrenders himself to the 
mercy of Aurelius, 

From hence Aurelius conducted his army to York, to besiege 
Octa, Hengist's son. When the city was invested, Octa was 
doubtful whether he should give him any opposition, and 
stand a siege against such a powerful army. After consulta- 
tion upon it, he went out with his principal nobility that were 
present, carrying a chain in his hand, and sand upon his 
head, and presented himself to the king with this address : 
" My gods are vanquished, and I doubt not that the sovereign 
power is in your God, who has compelled so many noble per- 
sons to come before you in this suppliant manner. Be pleased 
therefore to accept of us, and of this chain. If you do not 
think us fit objects of your clemency, we here present our- 
selves ready to be fettered, and to undergo whatever punish- 
ment you shall adjudge us to." Aurelius was moved with 
pity at the spectacle, and demanded the advice of his council 
what should be done with them. After various proposals 
upon this subject, Eldad the bishop rose up, and delivered 
his opinion in these words : " The Gibeonites came volun- 
tarily to the children of Israel to desire mercy, and they 
obtained it. And shall we Christians be worse than the 
Jews, in refusing them mercy ? It is mercy which they beg, 
and let them have it. The island of Britain is large, and in 
many places uninhabited. Let us make a covenant with 
them, and suffer them at least to inhabit the desert places, 
that they maybe our vassals for ever." The king acquiesced 
in Eldad's advice, and suffered them to partake of his clemency. 
After this Eosa and the rest that fled, being encouraged by 
Octa's success, came also, and were admitted to the same 

214 Geoffrey's British history. [sooKvm. cr.* 

favour. The king therefore granted them the country border- 
ing upon Scotland, and made a firm covenant with them. 

Chap. IX. — Aurelius, having entirely routed the enemies, restore* atk 
things in Britain, especially ecclesiastical affairs, to their ancient state. 

The enemies being now entirely reduced,* the king sum- 
moned the consuls and princes of the kingdom together at 
York, where he gave orders for the restoration of the 
churches, which the Saxons had destroyed. He himself 
undertook the rebuilding of the metropolitan church of that 
city, as also the other cathedral churches in that province 
After fifteen days, when he had settled workmen in severa. 
places, he went to London, which city had not escaped the 
fury of the enemy. He beheld with great sorrow the de- 
struction made in it, and recalled the remainder of the citi- 
zens from all parts, and began the restoration of it. Here 
he settled the affairs of the whole kingdom, revived the 
laws, restored the right heirs to the possessions of their an- 
cestors ; and those estates, whereof the heirs had been lost in 
the late grievous calamity, he distributed among his fellow 
soldiers In these important concerns, of restoring the na- 
tion to its ancient state, repairing the churches, re-establish- 
ing peace and law, and settling the administration of justice, 
was his time wholly employed. From hence he went to 
Winchester, to repair the ruins of it, as he did of other 
cities ; and when the work was finished there, he went, at 
the instance of bishop Eldad, to the monastery near Kaer- 
caradoc, now Salisbury, where the consuls and princes> 
whom the wicked Hengist had treacherously murdered, lay 
buried. At this place was a convent that maintained three 
hundred friars, situated on the mountain of Ambrius, who, 
as is reported, had been the founder of it. The sight of 
the place where the dead lay, made the king, who was of a 
compassionate temper, shed tears, and at last enter upon 
thoughts, what kind of monument to erect upon it. For he 
thought something ought to be done to perpetuate the 

* The conquest of England was achieved slowly by the Saxons, yet H 
was sure and permanent : the assertion in the text is untrue, Tbe«? 
was no expulsion or subjugation of the invaders when they were obvt 


memory of that piece of ground, which was honoured with 
the bodies of so many noble patriots, that died for theii 

Chap. X. — Aurelius is advised by Merlin to remove the Giant* s Dance 
from the mountain Killaraus. 

Fob this purpose he summoned together several carpenter 
and masons, and commanded them to employ the utmost c 
their art* in contriving some new structure, for a lasting 
monument to those great men. But they, in diffidence of 
their own skill, refusing to undertake it, Tremounus, arch- 
bishop of the City of Legions, went to the king, and said, 
" If any one living is able to execute your commands, Mer- 
lin, the prophet of Vortigern, is the man. In my opinion 
there is not in all your kingdom a person of a brighter 
genius, either in predicting future events, or in mechanical 
contrivances. Order him to come to you, and exercise his 
skill in the work which you design." Whereupon Aurelius, 
after he had asked a great many questions concerning him, 
despatched several messengers into the country to find him 
out, and bring him to him. After passing through several 
provinces, they found him in the country of the Gewisseans, 
at the fountain of Galabes, which he frequently resorted to. 
As soon as they had delivered their message to him, they 
conducted him to the king, who received him with joy, and, 
being curious to hear some of his wonderful speeches, com- 
manded him to prophesy. Merlin made answer : " Mysteries 
of this kind are not to be revealed but when there is the 
greatest necessity for it. If I should pretend to utter them 
for ostentation or diversion, the spirit that instructs me 
would be silent, and would leave me when I should have 
occasion for it." When he had made the same refusal to all 
the rest present, the king would not urge him any longer 
about his predictions, but spoke to him concerning the monu- 
ment which he designed. "If you are desirouj," said Merlin, 
" to honour the burying-place of these men with an ever- 
lasting monument, send for the Giant's Dance, which is in 
Killaraus, a mountain in Ireland. For there is a structure 
of stones there, which none of this age could raise, without 
a profound knowledge of the mechanical arts. They ar« 

216 GEOFFBEl'8 BRITISH HISTORY, (book Tin. ch. 11, I* 

stones of a vast magnitude and wonderful quality ; and if 
they can be placed here, as they are there, round this spot of 
ground, they will stand for ever." 

Chap, XI. — Uther Pendragon is appointed with Merlin to bring over the 
Giant's Dance. 

At these words of Merlin, Aurelius burst into laughter, and 
said, " How is it possible to remove such vast stones from so 
distant a country, as if Britain was not furnished with stones 
fit for the work ?" Merlin replied, " I entreat your majesty 
to forbear vain laughter ; for what I say is without vanity. 
They are mystical stones, and of a medicinal virtue. The 
giants of old brought them from the farthest coast of Africa, 
and placed them in Ireland, while they inhabited that coun- 
try. Their design in this was to make baths in them, when 
they should be taken with any illness. For their method 
was to wash the stones, and put their sick into the water, 
which infallibly cured them. With the like success they 
cured wounds also, adding only the application of some 
herbs. There is not a stone there which has not some heal- 
ing virtue." When the Britons heard this, they resolved to 
send for the stones, and to make war upon the people of 
Ireland if they should offer to detain them. And to accom- 
plish this business, they made choice of Uther Pendragon, 
who was to be attended with fifteen thousand men. They 
chose also Merlin himself, by whose direction the whole 
affair was to be managed. A fleet being therefore got 
ready, they set sail, and with a fair wind arrived in Ire- 

Chap. XII. — Gillomanius being routed by TJther y the Britons bring offer 
the Giant's dance into Britain. 

At that time Gillomanius, a youth of wonderful valour, 
reigned in Ireland ; who, upon the news of the arrival of 
the Britons in his kingdom, levied a vast army, and marched 
out against them. And when he had learned the occasion 
of their coming, he smiled, and said to those about him, 
" No wonder a cowardly race of people were able to make 
so great a devastation in the island of Britain, when the 
Britons are such brutes and fools. Was ever the like follj 


heard of? What are the stones of Ireland better than those 
of Britain, that our kingdom must be put to this disturbance 
for them ? To arms, soldiers, and defend your country ; 
while I have life they shall not take from us the least stone 
of the Giant's Dance." Uther, seeing them prepared for a 
battle, attacked them ; nor was it long ere the Britons had 
the advantage, who, having dispersed and killed the Irish, 
forced Gillomanius to flee. After the victory they went to 
the mountain Killaraus, and arrived at the structure of stones, 
the sight of which filled them both with joy and admiration. 
And while they were all standing round them, Merlin came 
up to them and said, " Now try your forces, young men, and 
see whether strength or art can do the most towards taking 
down these stones." At this word they all set to their 
engines with one accord, and attempted the removing of the 
Giant's Dance. Some prepared cables, others small ropes, 
others ladders for the work, but all to no purpose. Merlin 
laughed at their vain efforts, and then began his own contri- 
vances. When he had placed in order the engines that were 
necessary, he took down the stones with an incredible facility, 
and gave directions for carrying them to the ships, and 
placing them therein. This done, they with joy set sail 
again, to return to Britain ; where they arrived with a fair 
gale, and repaired to the burying-place with the stones. 
When Aurelius had notice of it, he sent messengers to all 
parts of Britain, to summon the clergy and people together 
to the mount of Ambrius, in order to celebrate with joy and 
honour the erection of the monument. Upon this summons 
appeared the bishops, abbats, and people of all other orders and 
qualities ; and upon the day and place appointed for their 
general meeting, Aurelius placed the crown upon his head, 
and with royal pomp celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the 
solemnity whereof he continued the three following days. 
In the meantime, all places of honour that were vacant, he 
bestowed upon his domestics as rewards for their good ser- 
vices. At that time the two metropolitan sees of York and 
Legions were vacant ; and with the general consent of the 
people, whom he was willing to please in this choice, he 
granted York to Sanxo, a man of great quality, and much 
celebrated for his piety ; and the City of Legions to Dubri- 
cius, whom divine providence had pointed out as a most use- 

2 W Geoffrey's British history. [ book vm. ch. u u 

ful pastor in that place. As soon as he had settled these 
and other affairs in the kingdom, he ordered Merlin to 
set up the stones brought over from Ireland, about the 
sepulchre; which he accordingly did, and placed them in 
the same manner as they had been in the mountain Killaraus, 
and thereby gave a manifest proof of the prevalence of art 
above strength.* 

Chap. XIII. — Pascentius brings in the Saxons against the Britons. 

At the same time Pascentius, the son of Vortigern, who 
had fled over into Germany, was levying all the forces of 
that kingdom against Aurelius Ambrosius, with a design to 
revenge his father's death; and promised his men an im- 
mense treasure of gold and silver, if with their assistance he 
could succeed in reducing Britain under his power. When 
he had at last corrupted all the youth of the country with 
his large promises, he prepared a vast fleet, and arrived in 
the northern parts of the island, upon which he began to 
make great devastations. The king, on the other hand, 
hearing this news, assembled his army, and marching against 
them challenged the enraged enemy to a battle ; the chal- 
lenge was accepted, and by the blessing of God the enemy 
was defeated and put to flight. 

Chap. XIV. — Pascentius, assisted by the king of Ireland, again invades 
Britain, A urelius dies by the treachery of Eopa, a Saxon, 

Pascentius, after this flight, durst not return to Germany, 
but shifting his sails, went over to Gillomanius, in Ireland, 
by whom he was well received. And when he had given 
him an account of his misfortune, Gillomanius, in pity to him, 
promised him his assistance, and at the same time vented his 
complaint of the injuries done him by Uther, the brother of 
Aurelius, when he came for the Giant's Dance. At last, 
entering into confederacy together, they made ready their 
fleet, in which they embarked, and arrived at the city of 
Menevia. This news caused Uther Pendragon to levy his 

* This is the venerable monument of antiquity, now called Stonehenge, 
of the origin of which we know no more than we know of the solid frame- 
work of the globe itself. It was certainly erected by a people who lived 
long before the beginning of authentic history. 

tO.4»7-ff08.] EOPA P0ISON& AURELIUB. 219 

forces, and march into Cambria to fight them. For his 
brother Aurelius then lay sick at Winchester, and was not 
able to go himself. When Pascentius, Gillomanius, and the 
Saxons heard of it, they highly rejoiced, flattering them- 
selves, that his sickness would facilitate to them the conquest 
of Britain. While this occurrence was the subject of the 
people's discourse, one of the Saxons, named Eopa, came to 
Pascentius, and said, " What reward will you give the man 
that shall kill Aurelius Ambrosius for you ?" To whom 
Pascentius answered, " O that I could find a man of such 
resolution ! I would give him a thousand pounds of silver, 
and my friendship for life ; and if by good fortune I can but 
gain the crown, I promise upon oath to make him a centu- 
rion." To this Eopa replied, " I have learned the British 
language, and know the manners of the people, and have skill 
in physic. J£ therefore, you will perform this promise, I 
will pretend to be a Christian and a Briton, and when, as a 
physician, I shall be admitted into the king's presence, I will 
make him a potion that shall despatch him. And to gain the 
readier access to him, I will put on the appearance of a de- 
vout and learned monk." Upon this offer, Pascentius entered 
into covenant with him, and confirmed what he had promised 
with an oath. Eopa, therefore, shaved his beard and head, and 
in the habit of a monk hastened to Winchester, loaded with 
vessels full of medical preparations. As soon as he arrived 
there, he offered his service to those that attended about the 
king, and was graciously received by them ; for to them 
nobody was now more acceptable than a physician. Being 
introduced into the king's presence, he promised to restore 
him to his health, if he would but take his potions. Upon 
which he had his orders forthwith to prepare one of them, 
into which when he had secretly conveyed a poisonous mix- 
ture, he gave it the king. As soon as Aurelius had drunk 
it up, the wicked Ambron ordered him presently to cover 
himself close up, and fall asleep, that the detestable potion 
might the better operate. The king readily obeyed his pre- 
scriptions, and in hopes of his speedy recovery fell asleep. 
But the poison quickly diffused itself through all the porea 
and veins of his body, so that the sleep ended in death. In 
the meantime the wicked traitor* having cunningly with- 
drawn himself first from one and then from another, was no 

220 Geoffrey's British history, [am too i*»i& 

longer to be found in the court. During these transactions 
at Winchester, there appeared a star of wonderful magnitude 
and brightness, darting forth a ray, at the end of which was 
a globe of fire in form of a dragon, out of whose mouth 
issued forth two rays ; one of which seemed to stretch out 
itself beyond the extent of Gaul, the other towards the Irish 
Sea, and ended in seven lesser rajs. 

Chap. XV. — A comet ppesignifies the reign of Uther* 

At the appearance of this star, a general fear and amaze- 
ment seized the people ; and even Uther, the king's brother, 
who was then upon his march with his army into Cambria, 
being not a little terrified at it, was very curious to know of 
the learned men, what it portended. Among others, he 
ordered Merlin to be called, who also attended in this expe- 
dition to give his advice in the management of the war ; and 
who, being now presented before him, was commanded to 
discover to him the signification of the star. At this he 
burst out into tears, and with a loud voice cried out, " O 
irreparable loss ! O distressed people of Britain I Alas ! 
the illustrious prince is departed ! The renowned king of 
the Britons, Aurelius Ambrosius, is dead ! whose death will 
prove fatal to us all, unless God be our helper. Make haste, 
therefore, most noble Uther, make haste to engage the enemy : 
the victory will be yours, and you shall be king of all Britain. 
For the star, and the fiery dragon under it, signifies yourself, 
and the ray extending towards the Gallic coast, portends that 
you shall have a most potent son, to whose power all those 
kingdoms shall be subject over which the ray reaches. But 
the other ray signifies a daughter, whose sons and grandsons 
shall successively enjoy the kingdom of Britain." 

Chap. XVI. — Pmcentius and Gillomanius are killed in battle. 

Uther, though he doubted of the truth of what Merlin had 
declared, pursued his march against the enemy, for he wa^ 
now come within half a day's march of Menevia. When Gil- 
lomanius, Pascentius, and the Saxons were informed of his 
approach, they went out to give him battle. As soon as 
they were come within sight of each other, both armies began 
to form themselves into several bodies, and then advanced tj 

4-lfc Oft] UTHEB, KING OF BRITAIN. 221 

a close attack, in which both sides suffered a loss of men, as 
usually happens in sueh engagements. Aj last, towards the 
dose of the day, the advantage was on 'Uther's side, and the 
death of Gillomanius and Pascentius made a way for com- 
plete victory. So that the barbarians, being put to flight, 
hastened to their ships, but were slain by their pursuers* 
Thus, by the favour of Christ, the general had triumphant 
success, and then with all possible expedition, after so great 
a fatigue, returned back to Winchester : for he had now 
been informed, by messengers that arrived, of the king's sad 
fate, and of his burial by the bishops of the country, near 
the convent of Ambrius, within the Giant's Dance, which 
in his lifetime he had commanded to be made. For upon 
hearing the news of his death, the bishops, abbats, and all 
the clergy of that province, had met together at Winchester, 
to solemnize his funeral. And because in his lifetime he 
had given orders for his being buried in the sepulchre which 
he had prepared, they therefore carried his corpse thither, 
and performed his exsequies with royal magnificence. 

Chap. XVII. — Uther Pendragon is made king of Britain, 

But Uther his brother, having assembled the clergy of the 
kingdom, took the crown, and by universal consent was 
advanced to the kingdom. And remembering the explana- 
tion which Merlin had made of the star above-mentioned, 
he commanded two dragons to be made of gold, in likeness 
of the dragon .which he had seen at the ray of the star. As 
soon as they were finished, which was done with wonderful 
nicety of workmanship, he made a present of one to the 
cathedral church of Winchester, but reserved the other for 
himself, to be carried along with him to his wars. From 
this time, therefore, he was called Uther Pendragon, which 
in the British tongue signifies the dragon's "head ; the occa- / 
sion of this appellation being Merlin's predicting^ fr° m the 
appearance of a dragon, that he should be king. 

Chap. XVIIL — Octa and Eosa are taken in battle. 

In the meantime Octa the son of Hengist, and his kinRm^n 
Eosa, seeing they were no longer bound by the treaty which 
they had made with Aurelius Ambrosius, began to raise dis* 

222 Geoffrey's British history. [■ooKra.ox.ia 

turbances against the king, and infest his countries. For 
they were now joining with the Saxons whom Pascentius 
had brought over, and sending messengers into Germany for 
the rest. Being therefore attended with a vast army, he in- 
vaded the northern provinces, and in an outrageous manner 
destroyed all the cities and fortified places, from Albania to 
York. At last, as he was beginning the siege of that city, 
Uther Pendragon came upon him with the whole power of 
the kingdom, and gave him battle. The Saxons behaved 
with great gallantry, and, having sustained the assaults of 
the Britons, forced them to fly ; and upon this advantage 
pursued them with slaughter to the mountain Damen, which 
was as long as they could do it with day-light. The moun- 
tain was high, and had a hazel-wood upon the top of it, and 
about the middle broken and cavernous rocks, which were a 
harbour to wild beasts. The Britons made up to it, and 
stayed there all night among the rocks and hazel-bushes. 
But as it began to draw towards day, Uther commanded the 
consuls and princes to be called together, that he might con- 
sult with them in what manner to assault the enemy. Where- 
upon they forthwith appeared before the king, who com- 
manded them to give their advice ; and Gorlois, duke of 
Cornwall, had orders to deliver his opinion first, out of regard 
to his years and great experience. " There is no occasion," 
said he, " for ceremonies or speeches, while we see that it is 
still night : but there is for boldness and courage, if you 
desire any longer enjoyment of your life and liberty. The 
pagans are very numerous, and eager to fight, and we much 
inferior to them in number ; so that if we stay till daybreak, 
we cannot, in my opinion, attack them to advantage. Come 
on, therefore, while we have the favour of the night, let us 
go down in a close body, and surprise them in their camp 
with a sudden assault. There can be no doubt of success, 
if with one consent we fall upon them boldly, while they 
think themselves secure, and have no expectation of our 
coming in such a manner.* The king and all that were pre- 
sent, were pleased with his advice, and pursued it. For as 
soon as they were armed and placed in their ranks, they 
made towards the enemies' camp, designing a general assault. 
But upon approaching to it, they were discovered by the 
watch, who with sound of trumpet awaked their companions. 


The enemies being hereupon put into confusion and astonish- 
ment, part of them hastened towards the sea, and part ran 
up and down whithersoever their fear or precipitation drove 
them. The Britons, finding their coming discovered, hastened 
their march, and keeping still close together in their ranks, 
assailed the camp ; into which when they had found an en- 
trance, they ran with their drawn swords upon the enemy ; 
who in this sudden surprise made but a faint defence against 
their vigorous and regular attack ; and pursuing this blow 
with great eagerness they destroyed some thousands of the 
pagans, took Octa and Eosa prisoners, and entirely dispersed 
the Saxons. 

Chap. XIX. — Uther, falling in love with Igerna, enjoy 8 her by the assist* 
ance of Merlin's magical operations. — - 

After this victory Uther repaired to the city of Alclud, 
where he settled the affairs of that province, and restored 
peace everywhere. He also made a progress round all the 
countries of the Scots, and tamed the fierceness of that rebel- 
lious people, by such a strict administration of justice, as 
none of his predecessors had exercised before : so that in 
his time offenders were everywhere under great terror, since 
they were sure of being punished without mercy. At last, 
when he had established peace in the northern provinces, he 
went to London, and commanded Octa and Eosa to be kept 
in prison there. The Easter following he ordered all the 
nobility of the kingdom to meet at that city, in order to 
celebrate that great festival ; in honour of which he designed 
to wear his crown. The summons was everywhere obeyed, 
and there was a great concourse from all cities to celebrate 
the day. So the king observed the festival with great 
solemnity, as he had designed, and very joyfully entertained 
his nobility, of whom there was a very great muster, with 
their wives and daughters, suitably to the magnificence of 
the banquet prepared for them. And having been received 
with joy by the king, they also expressed the same in 
their deportment before him. Among the rest was pre- 
sent Gorlois, duke of Cornwall, with his wife Igerna, the 
greatest beauty in all Britain. No sooner had the king cast 
his eyes upon her among the rest of the ladies, than he fell 
passionately in love with her, and little regarding the rest, 

224 Geoffrey's British history. [book vm. ch. h 

made her the subject of all his thoughts. She was the only 
lady that he continually served with fresh dishes, and to 
whom he sent golden cups by his confidants ; on her he 
bestowed all his smiles, and to her addressed all his dis- 
course. The husband, discovering this, fell into a great 
rage, and retired from the court without taking leave : nor 
was there any body that could stop him, while he was under 
fear of losing the chief object of his delight. Uther, there- 
fore, in great wrath commanded him to return back to court, 
to make him satisfaction for this affront. But Grorlois 
refused to obey ; upon which the king was highly incensed, 
and swore he would destroy his country, if he did not 
speedily compound for his offence. Accordingly, without 
delay, while their anger was hot against each other, the king 
got together a great army, and marched into Cornwall, the 
cities and towns whereof he set on fire. But Grorlois durst 
not engage with him, on account of the inferiority of his 
numbers ; and thought it a wiser course to fortify his towns, 
till he could get succour from Ireland. And as he was under 
more concern for his wife than himself, he put her into the 
town of Tintagel,* upon the sea-shore, which he looked 
upon as a place of great safety. But he himself entered the 
castle of Dimilioc, to prevent their being both at once in- 
volved in the same danger, if any should happen. The king, 
informed of this, went to the town where Gorlois was, which 
he besieged, and shut up all the avenues to it. A whole 
week was now past, when, retaining in mind his love to 
Igerna, he said to one of his confidants, named Ulfin de 
Kicaradoch : " My passion for Igerna is such, that I can 
neither have ease of mind, nor health of body, till I obtain 
her : and if you cannot assist me with your advice how to 
accomplish my desire, the inward torments I endure will kill 
me." — "Who can advise you in this matter," said Ulfin, 
" when no force will enable us to have access to her in the 
town of Tintagel ? For it is situated upon the sea, and on 
every side surrounded by it ; and there is but one entrance 
into it, and that through a straight rock, which three men 
shall be able to defend against the whole power of the king « 
dom. Notwithstanding, if the prophet Merlin would in 

* The rains of this castle denote that it must have been a place of 


earnest set about this attempt, I am of opinion, you might 
with his advice obtain your wishes." The king readily be- 
lieved what he was so well inclined to, and ordered Merlin, 
who was also come to the siege, to be called. Merlin, there- 
fore, being introduced into the king's presence, was com- 
manded to give his advice, how the king might accomplish 
his desire with respect to Igerna. And he, finding the great 
anguish of the king, was moved by such excessive love, and 
said, " To accomplish your desire, you must make use of 
such arts as have not been heard of in your time. 1 know 
how, by the force of my medicines, to give you the exact 
likeness ofGbrlois, so that in all respects you shall seem to 
be no^tHer than himself. If you will therefore obey my 
prescriptions, I willjnetamorphose you into the true sem- 
blance of Gorlois, andTTIfin into Jordan of Tintagel, his 
familiar friend ; and I myself, being transformed into another 
shape, will make the third in the adventure ; and in this 
disguise you may go safely to the town where Igerna is, and 
have admittance to her." The king complied with the pro- 
posal, and acted with great caution in this affair ; and when 
he had committed the care of the siege to his intimate 
friends, underwent the medical applications of Merlin, by 
whom he was transformed into the likeness of Gorlois ; as 
was Ulfin also into Jordan, and Merlin himself into Bricel ; 
so that nobody could see any remains now of their former 
likeness. They then set forward on their way to Tintagel, 
at which they arrived in the evening twilight, and forthwith 
signified to the porter, that the consul was come ; upon which 
the gates were opened, and the men let in. For what room 
could there be for suspicion, when Gorlois himself seemed to 
be there present ? The king therefore stayed that night with 
Igerna, and had the full enjoyment of her, for she was de- 
ceived with the false disguise which he had put on, and the 
artful and amorous discourses wherewith he entertained her. 
He told her he had left his own place besieged, purely to 
provide for the safety of her dear self, and the town she was 
in ; so that believing all that he said, she refused him nothing 
which he desired. The same night therefore she conceived 
of the most renowned Arthur, whose heroic and wonderful 
actions have justly rendered his name famous to posterity. 

22£ Geoffrey's British histoby. [booj, vm. en. w, a 

Chap. XX. — Gorlois being killed, Uther marries Igerna. 

In the meantime, as soon as the king's absence was discovered 
at the siege, his army unadvisedly made an assault upon the 
walls, and provoked the besieged count to a battle ; who 
himself also, acting as inconsiderately as they, sallied forth 
with his men, thinking with such a small handful to oppose 
a powerful army ; but happened to be killed in the very first 
brunt of the fight, and had all his men routed. The town 
also was taken ; but all the riches of it were not shared 
equally among the besiegers, but every one greedily took 
what he could get, according as fortune or his own strength 
favoured him. After this bold attempt, came messengers to 
Igerna, with the news both of the duke's death, and of the 
event of the siege. But when they saw the king in the 
likeness of the consul, sitting close by her, they were struck 
with shame and astonishment at his safe arrival there, whom 
they had left dead at the siege ; for they were wholly 
ignorant of the miracles which Merlin had wrought with his 
medicines. The king therefore smiled at the news, and em- 
bracing the countess, said to her : " Your own eyes may 
tonvince you that I am not dead, but alive. But notwith- 
standing, the destruction of the town, and the slaughter of 
my men, is what very much grieves me ; so that there is 
reason to fear the king's coming upon us, and taking us in 
this place. To prevent which, I will go out to meet him, 
:and make my peace with him, for fear of a worse disaster." 
Accordingly, as soon as he was out of the town, he went to 
his army, and having put off the disguise of Gorlois, was 
now Uther Pendragon again. When he had a full relation 
made to him how matters had succeeded, he was sorry for 
the death of Gorlois, but rejoiced that Igerna was now at 
liberty to marry again. Then he returned to the town of 
Tintagel, which he took, and in it, what he impatiently 
wished for, Igerna herself. After this they continued to 
live together with much affection for each other, and had a 
son and daughter, whose names were Arthur and Anne. 

Chap. XXI. — Octa and Eosa renew the war. Lot, a consul, marries the 
king's daughter. 

In process of time the king was taken ill of a lingering 
distemper ; and meanwhile the keepers of the prison. 


wherein Octa and Eosa (as we related before) led a weary 
life, had fled over with them into Germany, and occasioned 
great fear over the kingdom. For there was a report of their 
great levies in Germany, and the vast fleet which they had 
prepared for their return to destroy the island : which the 
event verified. For they returned in a great fleet, and with 
a prodigious number of men, and invaded the parts of 
Albania, where they destroyed both cities and inhabitants 
with fire and sword. Wherefore, in order to repulse the 
enemies, the command of the British army was committed to 
Lot of Londonesia, who was a consul, and a most valiant 
knight, and grown up to maturity both of years and wisdom. 
Out of respect to his eminent merits, the king had given him 
his daughter Anne, and entrusted him with the care of the 
kingdom, during his illness. In his expedition against the 
enemies he had various success, being often repulsed by 
them, and forced to retreat to the cities ; but he oftener 
routed and dispersed them, and compelled them to flee 
sometimes into the woods, sometimes to their ships. So 
that in a war attended with so many turns of fortune, it 
was hard to know which side had the better. The greatest 
injury to the Britons was their own pride, in disdaining 
to obey the consul's commands ; for which reason all 
their efforts against the enemy were less vigorous and 

Chap. XXII. — Uther, being •//, is carried in a horse-Utter against the 


The island being by this conduct now almost laid waste, the 
king, having information of the matter, fell into a greater 
rage than his weakness could bear, and commanded all his 
nobility to come before him, that he might reprove them 
severely for their pride and cowardice. And as soon as they 
were all entered into his presence, he sharply rebuked them 
in menacing language, and swore he himself would lead them 
against the enemy. For this purpose he ordered a horse- 
litter to be made, in which he designed to be carried, for his 
infirmity would not suffer him to use any other sort of 
vehicle ; and he charged them to be all ready to march 
against the enemy on the first opportunity. So, without 


£28 . Geoffrey's British history. [MOKniLOLtt, 

delay, the horse-litter and all his attendants were got ready, 
and the day arrived which had been appointed for their 

Chap. XXIII. — Octa and Eos a, with a great number of their men, are 


The king, therefore, being put into his vehicle, they marched 
directly to Verulam, where the Saxons were grievously 
oppressing the people. When Octa and Eosa had intelligence 
that the Britons were come, and that the king was brought 
in a horse-litter, they disdained to fight with him, saying, it 
would be a shame for such brave men to fight with one that, 
was half dead. For which reason they retired into the city,' 
and, as it were in contempt of any danger from the enemy, 
left their gates wide open. But Uther, upon information 
of this, instantly commanded his men to lay siege to the city, 
and assault the walls on all sides ; which orders they strictly 
executed ; and were just entering the breaches which they 
had made in the walls, and ready to begin a general assault, 
when the Saxons, seeing the advantages which the Britons 
had gained, and being forced to abate somewhat of their 
haughty pride, condescended so far as to put themselves into 
a posture of defence. They therefore mounted the walls, 
from whence they poured down showers of arrows, and 
repulsed the Britons. On both sides the contest continued 
till night released them from the fatigue of their arms, which 
was what many of the Britons desired, though the greater 
part of them were for having the matter quickly decided 
with the enemy. The Saxons, on the other hand, finding * 
how prejudicial their own pride had been to them, and that 
the advantage was on the side of the Britons, resolved to 
make a sally at break of day, and try their fortune with the 
enemy in the open field ; which accordingly was done. For 
no sooner was it daylight, than they marched out with this 
design, all in their proper ranks. The Britons, seeing them, 
divided their men into several bodies, and advancing towards 
them, began the attack first, their part being to assault, while 
the others were only upon the defensive. However, much 
blood was shed on both sides, and the greatest part of the 
day spent in the fight, when at last, Octa and Eosa being 
killed, the Saxons turned their backs, and left the Britons a 


complete victory. The king at this was in such an ecstasy 
°f j°y> ^at whereas before he could hardly raise up himself 
without the help of others, he now without any difficulty sat 
upright in his horse-litter of himself, as if he was on a sudden 
restored to health ; and said with a laughing and merry 
countenance, " These Ambrons called me the half-dead king, 
because my sickness obliged me to lie on a horse-litter ; and 
indeed so I was. Yet victory to me half dead, is better than 
to be safe and sound and vanquished. For to die with 
honour, is preferable to living with disgrace." 

Chap. XXIV. — Uther, upon drinking spring water that was treacherously 
poisoned by the Saxons, dies. 

The Saxons, notwithstanding this defeat, persisted still in 
their malice, and entering the northern provinces, without 
respite infested the people there. Uther's purpose was to 
have pursued them ; but his princes dissuaded him from it 
because his illness had increased since the victory. This 
gave new courage to the enemy, who left nothing unattempted 
to make conquest of the kingdom. And now they have 
recourse to their former treacherous practices, and contrive 
how to compass the king's death by secret villainy. And 
because they could have no access to him otherwise, they 
resolved to take him off by poison ; in which they succeeded. 
For while he was lying ill at Verulam, they sent away some 
spies in a poor habit, to learn the state of the court ; and 
when they had thoroughly informed themselves of the 
posture of affairs, they found out an expedient by which 
they might best accomplish their villainy. For there was 
near the court a spring of very clear water, which the king 
used to drink of, when his distemper had made all other \ 
liquors nauseous to him. This the detestable conspirators » 
made use of to destroy him, by so poisoning the whole mass 
of water which sprang up, that the next time the king drank 
of it, he was siezed with sudden death, as were also a hundred 
other persons after him, till the villainy was discovered, and a 
heap of earth thrown over the well. As soon as the king's 
death was divulged, the bishops and clergy of the kingdom 
assembled, and carried his body to the convent ot Ambrius, 
where they buried it with regal solemnity, close by Aureliu* 
Ambroaius, within the Giant's Dance. 



Chap. I. — Arthur succeeds Uther his father in the kingdom of Britain, 
and besieges Colgrin, 

Uther Pendragon being dead, the nobility from several 
provinces assembled together at Silchester, and proposed to 
Dubricius, archbishop of Legions, that he should consecrate 
Arthur, Uther's son, to be their king. For they were now 
in great straits, because, upon hearing of the long's death, 
the Saxons had invited over their countrymen from Germany, 
and, under the command of Colgrin, were attempting to ex- 
terminate the whole British race. They had also entirely 
subdued all that part of the island which extends from the 
Humber to the sea of Caithness. Dubricius, therefore, 
grieving for the calamities of his country, in conjunction 
with the other bishops, set the crown upon Arthur's head. 
Arthur was then fifteen years old, but a youth of such 
unparalleled courage and generosity, joined with that sweet- 
ness of temper and innate goodness, as gained him universal 
love. When his coronation was over, he, according to usual 
custom, showed his bounty and munificence to the people. 
And such a number of soldiers flocked to him upon it, that 
his treasury was not able to answer that vast expense. But 
such a spirit of generosity, joined with valour, can never long 
want means to support itself. Arthur, therefore, the better 
to keep up his munificence, resolved to make use of his 
courage, and to fall upon the Saxons, that he might enrich 
his followers with their wealth. To this he was also moved 
by the justice of the cause, since the entire monarchy of 
Britain belonged to him by hereditary right. Hereupon 
assembling the youth under his command, he marched tc 
York, of which, when Colgrin had intelligence, he met him 
with a very great army, composed of Saxons, Scots, and 
Picts, by the river Duglas ; where a battle happened, with 
the loss of the greater part of both armies. Notwithstanding, 
the victory fell to Arthur, who pursued Colgrin to York, and 
there besieged him. Baldulph, upon the news of his brother's 
flight, went towards the siege with a body of six thousand 
men, to his relief ; for at the time of the battle he was upon 


the sea-coast, waiting the arrival of duke Cheldric with 
succours from Germany. And being now no more than ten 
miles distant from the city, his purpose was to make a speedy 
march in the night-time, and fall upon the enemy by way of 
surprise. But Arthur, having intelligence of his design, sent 
a detachment of six hundred horse, and three thousand foot, 
under the command of Cador, duke of Cornwall, to meet him 
the same night. Cador, therefore, falling into the same road 
along which the enemy was passing, made a sudden assault 
upon them, and entirely defeated the Saxons, and put them 
to flight. Baldulph was excessively grieved at this disap- 
pointment in the relief which he intended for his brother, 
and began to think of some other stratagem to gain access to 
him ; in which if he could but succeed, he thought they 
might concert measures together for their safety. And since 
he had no other way for it, he shaved his head and beard, 
and put on the habit of a jester with a harp, and in this 
disguise walked up and down in the camp, playing upon his 
instrument as if he had been a harper. He thus passed 
unsuspected, and by a little and little went up to the. walls 
of the city, where he was at last discovered by the besieged, 
who thereupon drew him up with cords, and conducted him 
to his brother. At this unexpected, though much desired 
meeting, they spent some time in joyfully embracing each 
other, and then began to consider various stratagems for 
their delivery. At last, just as they were considering their 
case desperate, the ambassadors returned from Germany, and 
brought with them to Albania a fleet of six hundred sail, 
laden with brave soldiers, under the command of Cheldric. 
Upon this news, Arthur was dissuaded by his council from 
continuing the siege any longer, for fear of hazarding a battle 
with so powerful and numerous an army. 

Chap. II. — Hoel sends fifteen thousand men to Arthur's assistance. 

Abthtjr complied with their advice, and made his retreat to 
London, where he called an assembly of all the clergy and 
nobility of the kingdom, to ask their advice, what course to 
take against the formidable power of the pagans. After 
some deliberation, it was agreed that ambassadors should be 
despatched into Armorica, to king Hoel, to represent to him 

232 Geoffrey's British history. m>osix.c«.i, 

the calamitous state of Britain. Hoel was the son of Arthur's 
sister by Dubricius, king of the Armorican Britons ; so that, 
upon advice of the disturbances his uncle was threatened 
with, he ordered his fleet to be got ready, and, having 
assembled fifteen thousand men, he arrived with the first 
fair wind at Hamo's Port,* and was received with all suit- 
able honour by Arthur, and most affectionately embraced 
by him* 

Chap, III. — Arthur makes the Saxons hit tributaries. 

After a few days they went to relieve the city Kaerliudcoit, 
that was besieged by the pagans ; which being situated upon 
a mountain, between two rivers in the province of Lindisia, 
is called by another name Lindocolinum.'(• As soon as they 
arrived there with all their forces, they fought with the 
Saxons, and made a grievous slaughter of them, to the num- 
ber of six thousand; part of whom were drowned in the 
rivers, part fell by the hands of the Britons. The rest in a 
great consternation quitted the siege and fled, but were 
closely pursued by Arthur, till they came to the wood of 
Celidon, where they endeavoured to form themselves into a 
body again, and make a stand. And here they again joined 
battle with the Britons, and made a brave defence, whilst 
the trees that were in the place secured them against the 
enemies' arrows. Arthur, seeing this, commanded the trees 
that were in that part of the wood to be cut down, and the 
trunks to be placed quite round them, so as to hinder their 
getting out; resolving to keep them pent up here till he 
could reduce them by famine. He then commanded his 
troops to besiege the wood, and continued three days in that 
place. The Saxons, having now no provisions to sustain 
them, and being just ready to starve with hunger, begged 
for leave to go out ; in consideration whereof they offered to 
leave all their gold and silver behind them, and return back 
to Germany with nothing but their empty ships. They pro- 
mised also that they would pay him tribute from Germany, 
and leave hostages with him. Arthur, after consultation, 
about it, granted their petition ; allowing them only leave to 
depart, and retaining all their treasures, as also hostages for 

* Southampton, i Lincoln. 


payment of the tribute. But as they were under sail on 
their return home, they repented of their bargain, and 
tacked about again towards Britain, and went on shore at 
Totness. No sooner were they landed, than they made an 
utter devastation of the country as far as the Severn sea, 
and put all the peasants to the sword. From thence they 
pursued their furious march to the town of Bath, and laid 
siege to it. When the king had intelligence of it, he was 
beyond measure surprised at their proceedings, and immedi- 
ately gave orders for the execution of the hostages. And 
desisting from an attempt which he had entered upon to re- 
duce the Scots and Picts, he marched with the utmost expe- 
dition to raise the siege ; but laboured under very great 
difficulties, because he had left his nephew Hoel sick at 
Alclud. At length, having entered the province of Somerset, 
and beheld how the siege was carried on, he addressed him- 
self to his followers in these words : " Since these impious 
and detestable Saxons have disdained to keep faith with me, 
I, to keep faith with God, will endeavour to revenge the 
blood of my countrymen this day upon them. To arms, 
soldiers, to arms, and courageously fall upon the perfidious 
wretches, over whom we shall, with Christ assisting us, un- 
doubtedly obtain the victory." 

Chap. IV. — Dubricius's speech against the treacherous Saxons, Arthur 
with his own hand kills four hundred and seventy Saxons in one battle, 
Co/grin and Datdulph are killed in the same. 

When he had done speaking, St. Dubricius, archbishop of 
Legions, going to the top of a hill, cried out with a loud 
voice, " You that have the honour to profess the Christian 
faith, keep fixed in your minds the love which you owe to 
your country and fellow subjects, whose sufferings by the 
treachery of the pagans will be an everlasting reproach to 
you, if you do not courageously defend them. It is your 
country which you fight for, and for which you should, when 
required, voluntarily suffer death ; for that itself is victory 
and the cure of the soul. For he that shall die for his bre- 
thren, offers himself a living sacrifice to God, and has Christ 
for his example, who condescended to lay down his life fo? 
his brethren. If therefore any of you shall be killed iu 
this war, that death itself, which is suffered in so glorious a 

834 Geoffrey's British history. Lbook ix. ch. 4. 

cause, shall be to him for penance and absol ition of all his 
sins." At these words, all of them, encouraged with the 
benediction of the holy prelate, instantly armed themselves, 
and prepared to obey his orders. Also Arthur ljimself, hav- 
ing put on a coat of mail suitable to the grandeur of so 
powerful a king, placed a golden helmet upon his head, on 
which was engraven the figure of a dragon; and on his 
shoulders his shield called Priwen ; upon which the picture 
of the blessed Mary, mother of God, was painted, in order 
to put him frequently in mind of her. Then girding on his 
'■Caliburn, which was an excellent sword made in the isle of 
Avallon, he graced his right hand with his lance, named 
Ron, which was hard, broad, and fit for slaughter. After 
this, having placed his men in order, he boldly attacked the 
Saxons, who were drawn out in the shape of a wedge, as 
their manner was. And they, notwithstanding that the 
Britons fought with great eagerness, made a noble defence 
all that day ; but at length, towards sunsetting, climbed up 
the next mountain, which served them for a camp : for they 
desired no larger extent of ground, since they confided very 
much in their numbers. The next morning Arthur, with 
his army, went up the mountain, but lost many of his men 
in the ascent, by the advantage which the Saxoits had in 
their station on the top, from whence they could pour down 
upon him with much greater speed, than he was able to ad- 
vance against them. Notwithstanding, after a very hard 
struggle, the Britons gained the summit of the hill, and 
quickly came to a close engagement with the enemy, who 
again gave them a warm reception, and made a vigorous de- 
fence. In this manner was a great part of that day also 
spent; whereupon Arthur, provoked to see the little advan- 
tage he had yet gained, and that victory still continued in 
suspense, drew out his Caliburn, and, calling upon the name 
of the blessed Virgin, rushed forward with great fury into 
the thickest of the enemy's ranks ; of whom (such was the 
merit of his prayers) not one escaped alive that felt the fury 
of his sword ; neither did he give over the fury of his 
assault until he had, with his Caliburn alone, killed four 
hundred and seventy men. The Britons, seeing this, fol- 
lowed their leader in great multitudes, and made slaughter 
on all sides ; so that Colgrin, and Baldulph his brother, and 


many thousands more, fell before them. But Cheldric, in 
this imminent danger of his men, betook himself to flight. 

Chap. V.— The Saxons, after their leader Cheldric was killed, are all 
compelled by Cador to surrender. 

The victory being thus gained, the king commanded Cador, 
duke of Cornwall, to pursue them, while he himself should 
hasten his march into Albania : from whence he had advice 
that the Scots and Ficts were besieging Alclud, in which, as 
we said before, Hoel lay sick. Therefore he hastened to his 
•assistance, for fear he might fall into the hands of the bar- 
barians. In the meantime the duke of Cornwall, who had 
the command of ten thousand men, would not as yet pursue 
the Saxons in their flight, but speedily made himself master 
of their ships, to hinder their getting on board, and manned 
them with his best soldiers, who were to beat back the 
pagans in case they should flee thither : after this he hastily 
pursued the enemy, according to Arthur's command, and 
allowed no quarter to those he could overtake. So that they 
whose behaviour before was so cruel and insolent, now with 
timorous hearts fled for shelter, sometimes to the coverts of 
the woods, sometimes to mountains and caves, to prolong a 
wretched life. At last, when none of these places could 
afford them a safe retreat, they entered the Isle of Thanet with 
their broken forces ; but neither did they there get free from 
the duke of Cornwall's pursuit, for he still continued slaugh- 
tering them, and gave them no respite till he had killed 
Cheldric, and taken hostages for the surrender of the 

Chap. VI*— Arthur grants a pardon to the Scots and Pic Is, besieged a 
the lake Lumond. 

Having therefore settled peace here, he directed his march 
to Alclud, which Arthur had relieved from the oppression o* 
barbarians, and from thence conducted his army to Mureif, 
where the Scots and Picts were besieged ; cfter three several 
battles with the king and his nephew, they had fled as far as 
this province, and entering upon the lake Lumond, sought 
for refuge in the islands that are upon it. This lake con- 
tains sixty islands, and receives sixty rivers into it, whick 

136 Geoffrey's British itistoby. [book i*. ch. 7 

empty themselves into the sea by no more than one mouth. 
There is also an equal number of rocks in these islands, as 
also of eagles' nests in those rocks, which flocked together 
there every year, and, by the load and general noise which 
they now made, foreboded some remarkable event that should 
happen to the kingdom. To these islands, therefore, had 
the enemy fled, thinking the lake would serve them instead 
of a fortification ; but it proved of little advantage to them. 
For Arthur, having got together a fleet, sailed round the 
rivers, and besieged the enemy fifteen days together, by which 
they were so straitened with hunger, that they died by thou- 
sands. While he was harassing them in this manner Guil- 
lamurius, king of Ireland, came up in a fleet with a very 
great army of barbarians, in order to relieve the besieged. 
This obliged Arthur to raise the siege, and turn his arms 
against the Irish, whom he slew without mercy, and com- 
pelled the rest to return back to their country. After this 
victory, he proceeded in his first attempt, which was to 
extirpate the whole race of the Scots and Picts, and treated 
them with an unparalleled severity. And as he allowed 
quarter to none, the bishops of that miserable country, with 
all the inferior clergy, met together, and bearing the reliques 
of the saints and other consecrated things of the church 
before them, barefooted, came to implore the king's mercy 
for their people. As soon as they were admitted into his 
presence, they fell down upon their knees, and humbly be- 
sought him to have pity on their distressed country, since 
the sufferings which he had already made it undergo, were 
sufficient ; nor was there any necessity to cut off the small 
remainder to a man ; and that he would allow them the 
enjoyment of a small part of the country, since they were ' 
willing to bear the yoke which he should impose upon them. 
The king was moved at the manner of their delivering this 
petition, and could not forbear expressing his clemency to 
them with tears ; and at the request of those holy men, 
granted them pardon. 

Chap. VII. — Arthur relates the wonderful nature of some ponds. 

This affair being concluded, Hoel had the curiosity to view 
the situation of the lake, and wondered to find the number 
of the rivers, islands, rocks, and eagles' nests, so exactly 


correspond : and while he was reflecting upon it as some- 
thing that appeared miraculous, Arthur came to him, and 
told him of another pond in tho same province, which was 
yet more wonderful. For not far from thence was one whose 
length and breadth were each twenty feet, and depth five 
feet. But whether its square figure was natural or arti- 
ficial, the wonder of it was, there were four different sorts of 
fishes in the four several corners of it, none of which were 
ever found in any other part of the pond but their own. He 
told him likewise of another pond in Wales, near the Severn, 
called by the country people Linligwan, into which when the 
sea flows, it receives it in the manner of a gulf, but so as to 
swallow up the tide, and never be filled, or have its banks 
covered by it. But at the ebbing of the sea, it throws out 
the waters which it had swallowed, as high as a mountain, 
and at last dashes and covers the banks with them. In the 
meantime, if all the people of that country should stand near 
with their faces towards it, and happened to have their clothes 
sprinkled with the dashing of the waves, they would hardly, 
if at all, escape being swallowed up by the pond. But with 
their backs towards it, they need not fear being dashed, 
though they stood upon the very banks. 

Chap. VIII. — Arthur restores York to its ancient beauty, especially as .0 
its churches.' 

The king, after his general pardon granted to the Scots, went 
to York to celebrate the feast of Christ's nativity, which was 
now at hand. On entering the city, he beheld with grief 
the desolation of the churches ; for upon the expulsion of 
the holy Archbishop Sanxo, and of all the clergy there, 
the temples which were half burned down, had no longer 
divine service performed in them : so much had the impious 
rage of the pagans prevailed. After this, in an assembly of 
the clergy and people, he appointed Pyramus his chaplain 
metropolitan of that see. The churches that lay level with 
the ground, he rebuilt, and (which was their chief ornament) 
saw them filled with assemblies of devout persons of both 
sexes* Also the nobility that were driven out by the dis- 
turbances of the Saxons, he restored to their country. 

288 GEOFFRErS BRITISH HISTORY. ira»(«.ai.l0 

Chap. IX.— Arthur honours Augusel with the sceptre of the Scots ; Urian, 
with that of Mureif; and Lot with the consulship of Londonesia. 

There were there three brothers of royal blood, viz. Lot, 
Urian, and Augusel, who, before the Saxons had prevailed, 
Held the government of those parts. Being willing therefore 
to bestow on these, as he did on others, the rights of their 
ancestors, he restored to Augusel the sovereignty over the 
Scots; his brother Urian he honoured with the sceptre of 
Mureif ; and Lot, who in time of Aurelius Ambrosius had 
married his sister, by whom he had two sons, Walgan and 
Modred, he re-established in the consulship of Londonesia, 
and the other provinces belonging to him. At length, when 
the whole country was reduced by him to its ancient state, 
he took to wife Guanhumara, descended from a noble family 
of Romans, who was educated under duke Cador, and in 
beauty surpassed all the women of the island. 

Chap. X. — Arthur adds to his government Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, 
and the Orkneys. 

The next summer he fitted out a fleet, and made an expedi- 
tion into Ireland, which he was desirous to reduce. Upon 
landing there, he was met by king Guillamurius before men- 
tioned, with a vast number of men, who came with a design 
to fight him ; but at the very beginning of the battle, those 
naked and unarmed people were miserably routed, and fled 
to such places as lay open to them for shelter. Guillamurius 
also in a short time was taken prisoner, and forced to submit ; 
as were also all the other princes of the country after the 
king's example, being under great consternation at what had 
happened. After an entire conquest of Ireland, he made a 
voyage with his fleet to Iceland, which he also subdued. 
And now a rumour spreading over the rest of the islands, 
that no country was able to withstand him, Doldavius, king 
of Gothland, and Gunfasius, king of the Orkneys, came 
voluntarily, and made their submission, on a promise of pay- 
ing tribute. Then, as soon as winter was over, he returned 
back to Britain, where having established the kingdom, he 
resided in it for twelve years together in peace. 


Chap. XL— Arthur subdues Norway, Dacia, Aquitaine, and Gaul. 

After this, having invited over to him all persons whatso- 
ever that were famous for valour in foreign nations, he began 
to augment the number of his domestics, and introduced such 
politeness into his court, as people of the remotest countries 
thought worthy of their imitation. So that there was not a 
nobleman who thought himself of any consideration, unless 
his clothes and arms were made in the same fashion as those 
of Arthur's knights. At length the fame of his munificence 
and valour spreading over the whole world, he became a ter- 
ror to the kings of other countries, who grievously feared 
the loss of their dominions, if he should make any attempt 
upon them. Being much perplexed with these anxious cares, 
they repaired their cities and towers, and built towns in con- 
venient places, the better to fortify themselves against any 
enterprise of Arthur, when occasion should require. Arthur, 
being informed of what they were doing, was delighted to 
find how much they stood in awe of him, and formed a 
design for the conquest of all Europe. Then having pre- 
pared his fleet, he first attempted Norway, that he might 
procure the crown of it for Lot, his sister's husband. This 
Lot was the nephew of Sichelin, king of the Norwegians, 
who being then dead, had appointed him his successor in the 
kingdom. But the Norwegians, disdaining to receive him, 
had advanced one Riculf to the sovereignty, and having for- 
tified their cities, thought they were able to oppose Arthur. 
Walgan, the son of Lot, was then a youth twelve years old, 
and was recommended by his uncle to the service of pope 
Supplicius, from whom he received arms. But to return to 
the history : as soon as Arthur arrived on the coast of Nor- 
way, king Riculf, attended with the whole power of that 
kingdom, met him, and gave him battle, in which, after a 
great loss of blood on both sides, the Britons at length had 
the advantage, and making a vigorous charge, killed RicuF 
and many others with him. Having thus defeated them, 
they set the cities on fire, dispersed the country people, and 
pursued the victory till they had reduced all Norway, as also 
Dacia, under the dominion of Arthur. After the conquest 
of these countries, and establishment of Lot upon the throne 
of Norway, Arthur made a voyage to Gaul, and dividing his 

240 GEOFFREYS BRITISH HISTORY. [book nc ca. 11. 

army into several bodies, began to lay waste that country on 
all sides. The province of Gaul was then committed to 
Flollo, a Roman tribune, who held the government of it un- 
der the emperor Leo. Upon intelligence of Arthur's coming,, 
he raised all the forces that were under his command, and 
made war against him, but without success. For Arthur was 
attended with the youth of all the islands that he had sub- 
dued; for which reason he was reported to have such an 
army as was thought invincible. And even the greater part 
of the Gallic army, encouraged by his bounty, came over to 
his service. Therefore Flollo, seeing the disadvantages he lay 
under, left his camp, and fled with a small number to Paris. 
There having recruited his army, he fortified the city, and 
resolved to stand another engagement with Arthur. But 
while he was thinking of strengthening himself with auxiliary 
forces in the neighbouring countries, Arthur came upon 
him unawares, and besieged him in the city. When a month 
had passed, Flollo, with grief observing his people perish 
with hunger, sent a message to Arthur, that they two alone 
should decide the conquest for the kingdom in a duel : for 
being a person of great stature, boldness and courage, he 
gave this challenge in confidence of success. Arthur was 
extremely pleased at Flollo's proposal, and sent him word 
back again, that he would give him the meeting which he 
desired. A treaty, therefore, being on both sides agreed to, 
they met together in the island without the city, where the 
people waited to see the event. They were both gracefully 
armed, and mounted on admirably swift horses ; and it was 
hard to tell which gave greater hopes of victory. When they 
had presented themselves against each other with their lances 
aloft, they put spurs to their horses, and began a fierce en- 
counter. But Arthur, who handled his lance more warily, 
struck it into the upper part of Flollo's breast, and avoiding 
his enemy's weapon, laid him prostrate upon the ground, and 
was just going to despatch him with his drawn sword, when 
Flollo, starting up on a sudden, met him with his lance 
couched, wherewith he mortally stabbed the breast of Arthur's 
horse, and caused both him and nis rider to fall. The 
Britons, when they saw their king lying on the ground, 
fearing he was killed, could hardly be restrained from breach 
of covenant, and falling with one consent upon the Gaa& 


But just as they were upon rushing into the lists, Arthur 
hastily got up, and guarding himself with his shield, advanc 
with speed against Flollo. And now they renewed the 
assault with great rage, eagerly bent upon one another's 
destruction. At length Flollo, watching his advantage, gave 
Arthur a blow upon the forehead, which might have proved 
mortal, had he not blunted the edge of his weapon against 
the helmet. When Arthur saw his coat of mail and shield 
red with blood, he was inflamed with still greater rage, and 
lifting up his Caliburn with his utmost strength struck it 
through the helmet into Flollo's head, and made a terrible 
gash. With this wound Flollo fell down, tearing the ground 
with his spurs, and expired. As soon as this news was 
spread through the army, the citizens ran together, and open- 
ing the gates, surrendered the city to Arthur. After the 
victory, he divided his army into two parts ; one of which he 
committed to the conduct of Hoel, whom he ordered to march 
•against Guitard, commander of the Pictavians ; while he 
with the other part should endeavour to reduce the other 
provinces. Hoel upon this entered Aquitaine, possessed 
himself of the cities of that country, and after distressing 
Guitard in several battles, forced him to surrender. He 
also destroyed Gascony with fire and sword, and subdued 
the princes of it. At the end of nine years, in which time 
all the parts of Gaul were entirely reduced, Arthur returned 
back to Paris, where he kept his court, and calling an assembly 
of the clergy and people, established peace and the just 
Administration of the laws in that kingdom. Then he be- 
stowed Neustria, now called Normandy, upon Bedver, his 
butler ; the province of Andegavia upon Caius, his sewer ; 
and several other provinces upon his great men that attended 
him. Thus having settled the peace of the cities and 
countries there, he returned back in the beginning of spring 
to Britain.* 

* It is wonderful that the contents of this book should ever have I 
for authentic history; our ancestors of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth 
centuries must have been singularly ignorant of every tiling concerning the 
latter ages of the Roman empire, and the formation of the modern king- 
doms of France and Germany, &c, if they could believe that king Arthur 
ever held his court in Paris. 

242 GEOFFREY^ BRITISH HISTOBY. [book u. cb. 1* 

Chap. XII. — Arthur summons a great many kings, princes, archbishops,. 
4fc. to a solemn assembly at the City of Legions. 

Upon the approach of the feast of Pentecost, Arthur, th* 
better to demonstrate his joy after such triumphant success, 
and for the more solemn observation of that festival, and 
reconciling the minds of the princes that were now subject 
to him, resolved, during that season, to hold a magnificent 
court, to place the crown upon his head, and to invite all the 
kings and dukes under his subjection, to the solemnity. And 
when he had communicated his design to his familiar friends, 
he pitched upon the City of Legions as a proper place for his 
purpose. For besides its great wealth above the other cities, 
its situation, which was in Glamorganshire upon the river 
Uske, near the Severn sea, was most pleasant, and fit for so 
great a solemnity. For on one side it was washed by that 
noble river, so that the kings and princes from the countries 
beyond the seas might have the convenience of sailing up to 
it. On the other side, the beauty of the meadows and groves, 
and magnificence of the royal palaces with lofty gilded roofs 
that adorned it, made it even rival the grandeur of Rome. 
It was also famous for two churches ; whereof one was built 
in honour of the martyr Julius, and adorned with a choir 
of virgins, who had devoted themselves wholly to the service 
of God ; but the other, which was founded in memory of St. 
Aaron, his companion, and maintained a convent of canons, 
was the third metropolitan church of Britain. Besides, there 
was a college of two hundred philosophers, who, being 
learned in astronomy and the other arts, were diligent in 
observing the courses of the stars, and gave Arthur true 
predictions of the events that would happen at that time. 
In this place, therefore, which afforded such delights, were 
preparations made for the ensuing festival. Ambassadors 
were then sent into several kingdoms, to invite to court the 
princes both of Gaul and all the adjacent islands. Ac- 
cordingly there came Augusel, king of Albania, now 
Scotland ; Urian, king of Mureif ; Cadwallo Lewirh, king 
of the Venedotians, now called the North Wales men ; 
Sater, king of the Demetians, or South Wales men ; Cador, 
king of Cornwall ; also the archbishops of the three metro- 
politan sees, London, York, and Dubricius of th< City of 


Legions. This prelate, who was primate of Britain, and 
legate of the apostolical see, was so eminent for his piety, 
that he could cure any sick person by his prayers. There 
came also the consuls of the principal cities, viz. Morvid, 
consul of Gloucester ; Mauron, of Worcester ; Anaraut, of 
■ Salisbury ; Arthgal, of Cargueit or Warguit ; Jugein, 
of Legecester ; Cursalen, of Kaicester ; Kinmare, duke 
of Dorobernia ; Galluc, of Salisbury ; Urgennius, of Bath ; 
Jbnathal, of Dorchester ; Boso, of Ridoc, that te, Oxford, 
Besides the consuls, came the following worthies of no* less 
dignity : Danaut, Map papo ; Cheneus, Map coil ; Peredur, 
Mab eridur ; Guiful, Map Nogoit ; Regin, Map claut ; 
Eddelein, Map cledauc ; Kincar, Mab bagan ; Kimmare ; 
Gorboroniam, Map goit ; Clofaut, Rupmaneton ; Kimbelim,. 
Map trunat ; Cathleus, Map catel ; Kinlich, Map neton ; and 
many others too tedious to enumerate. From the adjacent 
islands came GuiUamuriua, king of Ireland ; Malvasius, king 
of Iceland ; Doldavius, king of Gothland ; Gunfasius, king 
of the Orkneys ; Lot, king of Norway ; Aschillius, king of 
the Dacians. From the parts beyond the seas, came Holdin,. 
king of Ruteni ; Leodegarius, consul of Bolonia ; Bedver, 
the butler, duke of Normandy ; Borellus, of Cenomania ;: 
Caius, the sewer, duke of Andegavia ; Guitard, of Pictavia ; 
also the twelve peers of Gaul, whom Guerinus Carnotensfo 
brought along with him : Hoel, duke of the Armorican 
Britons, and his nobility, who came with such a train of 
mules, horses, and rich furniture, as it is difficult to describe. 
Besides these, there remained no prince of any consideration 
on this side of Spain, who came not upon this invitation. 
And no wonder, when Arthur's munificence, which was 
celebrated over the whole world, made him beloved by all 

Chap. XIII. — A description of the royal pomp at the coronation of 

When all were assembled together in the city, upon the day ' 
of the solemnity, the archbishops were conducted to the 
palace, in order to place the crown upon the king's head. 
Therefore Dubricius, inasmuch as the court was kept in his 
made himself ready to celebrate the office, and 
r 2 

244 Geoffrey's British history. [book ». cr. u 

undertook the ordering of whatever related to it. As soon 
as the king was invested with his royal habiliments, he was 
conducted in great pomp to the metropolitan church, sup- 
ported on each side by two archbishops, and haying four 
kings, viz. of Albania, Cornwall, Demetia, *d Venedotia, 
whose right it was, bearing four golden swords before him. 
He was also attended with a concert of all sorts of music, 
which made most excellent harmony. On another part was 
the queen, dressed out in her richest ornaments, conducted 
by the archbishops and bishops to the Temple of Virgins ; 
the four queens also of the kings last mentioned, bearing 
before her four white doves according to ancient custom ; 
and after her there followed a retinue of women, making all 
imaginable demonstrations of joy. When the whole procession 
was ended, so transporting was the harmony of the musical 
instruments and voices, whereof there was a vast variety in 
both churches, that the knights who attended were in doubt 
which to prefer, and therefore crowded from the one to the 
other by turns, and were far from being tired with the 
solemnity, though the whole day had been spent in it. At 
last, when divine service was over at both churches, the king 
and queen put off their crowns, and putting on their lighter 
ornaments, went to the banquet ; he to one palace with the 
men, and she to another with the women. For the Britons 
still observed the ancient custom of Troy, by which the men 
and women used to celebrate their festivals apart. When 
they had all taken their seats according to precedence, Caius 
the sewer, in rich robes of ermine, with a thousand young 
noblemen, all in like manner clothed with ermine, served up 
the dishes. From another part, Bedver the butler was 
followed with the same number of attendants, in various 
habits, who waited with all kinds of cups and drinking 
vessels. In the queen's palace were innumerable waiters, 
dressed with variety of ornaments, all performing their 
respective offices ; which if I should describe particularly, 
I should draw out the history to a tedious length. For at 
that time Britain had arrived at such a pitch of grandeur, 
that in abundance of riches, luxury of ornaments, and polite- 
ness of inhabitants, it far surpassed all other kingdoms. The 
knights in it that were famous for feats of chivalry, wore 
their clothes and arms all of the same colour and fashion : 


and the women also no less celebrated for their wit, wore all 
the same kind of apparel ; and esteemed none worthy of their 
love, but such as had given a proof of their valour in three 
several battles. Thus was the valour of the men an 
encouragement for the women's chastity, and the love of the 
women a spur to the soldier's bravery. 

Chap. XIV. — After a variety of sports at the coronation, Arthur amply 
rewards his servants. 

As soon as the banquets were over, they went into the fields 
without the city, to divert themselves with various sports. 
The military men composed a kind of diversion in imitation 
of a fight on horseback ; and the ladies, placed on the top 
of the walls as spectators, in a sportive manner darted their 
amorous glances at the courtiers, the more to encourage 
them. Others spent the remainder of the day in other 
diversions, such as shooting with bows and arrows, tossing 
the pike, casting of heavy stones and rocks, playing at dice 
and the like, and all these inoffensively and without quarrel- 
ling. Whoever gained the victory in any of these sports, 
was rewarded with a rich prize by Arthur. In this manner 
were the first three days spent ; and on the fourth, all who, 
upon account of their titles, bore any kind of office at this 
solemnity, were called together to receive honours and 
preferments in reward of their services, and to fill up 
the vacancies in the governments of cities and castles, 
archbishoprics, bishoprics, abbeys, and other posts of 

Chap. XV. — A letter from Lucius Tiberius, general of the Romans, to 
Arthur being read, they consult about an answer to it, 

JBut St. Dubricius, from a pious desire of leading a hermit's 
life, made a voluntary resignation of his archiepiscopal 
dignity ; and in his room was consecrated David, the king's 
uncle, whose life was a perfect example of that goodness 
which by his doctrine he taught. In place of St. Samson, 
archbishop of Dole, was appointed, with the consent of Hoel, 
king of the Armorican Britons, Chelianus, [Kilian] a priest 
of Llandaff, a person highly recommended for his good life 
and character. The bishopric of Silchester was conferred 

246 GEOFFBKY"S CUITLSII HI3TOBY. Imuok ijc cm. U. 

upon Mauganius, that of Winchester upon DiwanJus, and 
that of Alclud upon Eledanius. While he was disposing 
of these preferments upon them, it happened that twelve 
men of an advanced age, and venerable aspect, and bearing 
olive branches in their right hands, for a token that they 
were come upon an embassy, appeared before the king, 
moving towards him with a slow pace, and speaking with 
a soft voice ; and after their compliments paid, presented 
him with a letter from Lucius Tiberius, in these words : — 

"Lucius, procurator of the commonwealth, to Arthur 
king of Britain, according to his desert. The insolence 
of your tyranny is what fills me with the highest admiration, 
and the injuries you have done to Rome still increase my 
wonder. But it is provoking to reflect, that you are grown 
so much above yourself, as wilfully to avoid seeing this : nor 
do you consider what it is to have offended by unjust deeds 
a senate, to whom you cannot be ignorant the whole world 
owes vassalage. For the tribute of Britain, which the senate 
had enjoined you to pay, and which used to be paid to the 
Roman emperors successively from the time of Julius Caesar, 
you have had the presumption to withhold, in contempt of 
their imperial authority. You have seized upon the province 
of the AUobroges, and all the islands of the ocean, whose 
kings, while the Roman power prevailed in those parts, paid 
tribute to our ancestors. And because the senate have 
decreed to demand justice of you for such repeated injuries, 
I command you to appear at Rome before the middle of 
August the next year, there to make satisfaction to your 
masters, and undergo such sentence as they shall in justice 
pass upon you. Which if you refuse to do, I shall come to 
you, and endeavour to recover with my sword, what you in 
your madness have robbed us of." 

As soon as the letter was read in the presence of the kings 
and consuls, Arthur withdrew with them into the Gian?s 
Tower, which was at the entrance of the palace, to think 
what answer was fit to be returned to such an insolent mes- 
sage. As they were going up the stairs, Cador, duke 01' 
Cornwall, who was a man of a merry disposition, said to the 
king in a jocose manner: "I have been till now under fear, 
lest the easy life which the Britons lead, by enjoying a long 
peace, might make them cowards, and extinguish the fame oi 

M.p. 520-530^ arthuk's ROYJlL council. 247 

their gallantry, by which they have raised their name above 
all other nations. For where the exercise of arms is want- 
ing, and the pleasures of women, dice, and other diversions 
take place, no doubt, what remains of virtue, honour, courage, 
and thirst of praise, will be tainted with the rust of idleness. 
For now almost five years have passed, since we have been 
abandoned to these delights, and have had no exercise of war. 
Therefore, to deliver us from sloth, God has stirred up this 
spirit of the Romans, to restore our military virtues to their 
ancient state." In this manner did he entertain them with 
discourse, till they were come to their seats, on which 
when they were all placed, Arthur spoke to them after this 

Chap. XVI. — Arthur, holding a council with the kings, desires every one 
of them to deliver their opinions, 

" My companions both in good and bad fortune, whose abili- 
ties both in counsel and war I have hitherto experienced ; 
the present exigence of affairs, after the message which we 
have received, requires your careful deliberation and prudent 
resolutions ; for whatever is wisely concerted, is easily exe- 
cuted. Therefore we shall be the better able to bear the 
annoyance which Lucius threatens to give us, if we unani- 
mously apply ourselves to consider how to overcome it. In 
my opinion we have no great reason to fear him, when we 
reflect upon the unjust pretence on which he demands 
tribute of us. He says he has a right to it, because it was 
paid to Julius Caesar, and his successors, who invaded 
Britain with an army at the invitation of the ancient Britons, 
when they were quarrelling among themselves, and by force 
reduced the country under their power, when weakened by 
civil dissension. And because they gained it in this manner, 
they had the injustice to take tribute of it. For that can 
never be possessed justly, which is gained by force and 
violence. So that he has no reasonable grounds to pretend 
we are of right his tributaries. But since he has the pre- 
sumption to make an unjust demand of us, we have certainly 
as good reason to demand of him tribute from Rome ; let 
the longer sword therefore determine the right between us. 
For if Rome has decreed that tribute ought to be oaid to it 

248 Geoffrey's British history. (dookix.<b.i7 

from Britain, on account of its having been formerly under 
the yoke of Julius Caesar, and other Roman emperors ; I for 
the same reason now decree, that Rome ought to pay tribute 
to me, because my predecessors formerly held the govern- 
ment of it. For Belinus, that glorious king of the Britons, 
with the assistance of his brother Brennus, duke of the 
Allobroges, after they had hanged up twenty noble Romans 
in the middle of the market-place, took their city, and kept 
possession of it a long time, Likewise Constantine, the son 
of Helena, and Maximian [Maximus], who were both my 
kinsmen, and both wore the crown of Britain, gained the im- 
perial throne of Rome. Do not you, therefore, think that we 
ought to demand tribute of the Romans ? As for Gaul and 
the adjacent islands of the ocean, we have no occasion to 
return them any answer, since they did not defend them, 
when we attempted to free them from their power." As 
soon as he had done speaking to this effect, Hoel, king of 
the Armorican Britons, who had the precedence of the rest, 
made answer in these words. 

Chap. XVII. — The opinion of Hoel, king of Armorica, concerning a 
war with the Romans. 

" After the most profound deliberation that any of us shall 
be able to make, I think better advice cannot be given, than 
what your majesty in your great wisdom and policy now offers. 
Your speech, which is no less wise than eloquent, has super- 
seded all consultation on our part ; and nothing remains for us 
to do, but to admire and gratefully acknowledge your majesty's 
firmness of mind, and depth of policy, to which we owe such 
excellent advice. For if upon this motive you are pleased to 
make an expedition to Rome, I doubt not but it will be crowned 
with glorious success ; since it will be undertaken for the de- 
fence of our liberties, and to demand justly of our enemies, 
what they have unjustly demanded of us. For that person who 
would rob another, deserves to lose his own by him against 
whom the attempt is made. And, therefore, since the Romans 
threatened us with this injury, it will undoubtedly turn to 
their own loss, if we can have but an opportunity of engag- 
ing with them. This is what the Britons universally desires 
this is whit we have promised us in the Sibylline prophecies* 
which expressly declare, that the Roman empire shall be 

A.O. 620-43*.] THE SPEECH OF AUGUSEL. 249 

obtained by three persons, natives of Britain. The oracle 
is fulfilled in two of them, since it is manifest (as your 
majesty observed) that those two celebrated princes, BeHnus 
and Constantine, governed the Roman empire : and now you 
are the third to whom this supreme dignity is promised. 
Make haste, therefore, to receive what God makes no delay 
to give you ; to subdue those who are ready to receive your 
yoke ; and to advance us all, who for your advancement will 
spare neither limbs nor life. And that you may accomplish this, 
I myself will attend you in person with ten thousand men." 

Chap. XYIIl.— The opinion of Augusel. **} (^^^^^ 

When Hoel concluded his speech, Augusel, king of Albania, 
declared his good affection to the cause after this manner. 
"lam not able to express the joy that has transported me, 
since my lord has declared to us his designs. For we seem 
to have done nothing by all our past wars with so many and 
potent princes, if the Romans and Germans be suffered to 
enjoy peace, and we do not severely revenge on them the 
grievous oppressions which they formerly brought upon this 
country. But now, since we are at liberty to encounter 
them, I am overwhelmed with joy and eagerness of desire, 
to see a battle with them, when the blood of those cruel 
oppressors will be no less acceptable to me than a spring of 
water is to one who is parched with thirst. If I shall but 
live to see that day, how sweet will be the wounds which 
I shall then either receive or give ? Nay, how sweet will 
be even death itself, when suffered in revenging the injuries 
done to our ancestors, in defending our liberties, and in pro- 
moting the glory of our king! Let us then begin with 
these poltroons, and spoil them of all their trophies, by 
making an entire conquest of them. And I for my share 
will add to the army two thousand horse, besides foot." 

Chap. XIX. — They unanimously agree upon a war with the Romans, 

To the same effect spoke all the rest, and promised each of 
.hem their full quota of forces ; so that besides those pro- 
mised by the duke of Armorica, the number of men from 
he island of Britain alone was sixty thousand, all com- 
pletely armed. But the kings of the other islands, as they 

250 Geoffrey's buitish iiistokv. [**«». c«.x, 

had not been accustomed to any cavalry, promised their 
quota of infantry ; and, from the six provincial islands, viz. 
Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, the Orkneys, Norway, and 
Dacia, were reckoned a hundred and twenty thousand. From 
the duchies of Graul, that is, of the Buteni, the Portunians, 
the Estrusians, the Cenomanni, the Andegavians, and Picta- 
vians, were eighty thousand. From the twelve consulships 
of those who came along with Guerinus Carnotensis, twelve 
hundred. All together made up a hundred and eighty-thre€ 
thousand two hundred, besides foot which did not easily fall 
under number. 

Chap. XX. — Arthur prepares for a war, and refuses to pay tribute to 
the Romans. 

King Arthur, seeing all unanimously ready for his service, 
ordered them to return back to their countries with speed, 
and get ready the forces which they had promised, and to 
hasten to the general rendezvous upon the kalends of 
August, at the mouth of the river Barba, that from thence 
they might advance with them to the borders of the Allo- 
broges, to meet the Romans. Then he sent word to the 
emperors by their ambassadors; that as to paying them 
tribute, he would in no wise obey their commands ; and that 
the journey he was about to make to Rome, was not to stand 
the award of their sentence, but to demand of them what 
they had judicially decreed to demand of him. With this 
answer the ambassadors departed ; and at the same time 
also departed all the kings and noblemen, to perform with 
all expedition the orders that had been given them. 


Chap* I. — Lucius Tiberius calls together the eastern kings against the 

Lucius Tiberius, on receiving this answer, by order of the 
senate published a decree, for the eastern kings to come with 
their forces, and assist in the conquest of Britain. In obe- 

a.d. 320—S40.] Arthur's DREAm. 251 

dience to which there came in a very short time, Epistro- 
phius, king of the Grecians ; Mustensar, king of the Afri- 
cans; Alifontinam, king of Spain; Hirtacius, king of the 
Parthians; Boccus, of the Medes; Sertorius, of Libya; 
Teucer, king of Phrygia; Serses, king of the Itureans; 
Pandrasus, king of Egypt; Micipsa, king of Babylon; 
Polytetes, duke of Bithynia; Teucer, duke of Phrygia; 
Evander, of Syria; JEthion, of Bceotia; Hippolytus, of 
Crete, with the generals and nobility under them. Of the 
senatorian order also came, Lucius Catellus, Marius Lepidus, 
Caius Metellus Cotta, Quintus Milvius Catulus, Quintus Ca- 
rutius, and as many others as made up the number of forty 
thousand one hundred and sixty.* 

Chap. II. — Arthur commits to his nephew Modred the government of 
Britain. His dream at Homo's Port* 

After the necessary dispositions were made, upon the ka- 
lends of August, they began their march towards Britain, 
which when Arthur had intelligence of, he committed the 
government of the kingdom to his nephew Modred, and 
queen Gruanhumara, and marched with his army to Hamo's 
Port, where the wind stood fair for him. But while he, sur- 
rounded with all his numerous fleet, was sailing joyfully with 
a brisk gale, it happened that about midnight he fell into a 
very sound sleep, and in a dream saw a bear flying in the 
air, at the noise of which all the shores trembled; also a 
terrible dragon flying from the west, which enlightened the 
country with the brightness of its eyes. When these two 
met, they began a dreadful fight ; but the dragon with its fiery 
breath burned the bear which often assaulted him, and threw 
him down scorched to the ground. Arthur upon this awak- 
ing, related his dream to those that stood about him, who 
took upon them to interpret it, and told him that the dragon 
signified himself, but the bear, some giant that should en- 
counter with him; and that the fight portended the duel 
that would be between them, and the dragon s victory the 
same that would happen to himself. But Arthur conjec- 

* It is almost unnecessary to inform the reader that not one of thete 
kings ever existed ; and yet this caution may be of use, so prone are men 
3 indulge the bias of the imagination at the expense of historic truth. 

252 Geoffrey's British history. £mmkx.< 

tared it portended something else, and that the vision 
applicable to himself and the emperor. As soon as the 
morning after this night's sail appeared, they found them- 
selves arrived at the mouth of the river Barba. And there 
they pitched their tents, to wait the arrival of the kings of 
the islands and the generals of the other provinces. 

Chap. III. — Arthur kills a Spanish giant who had stolen away Helena, 
the niece of HoeL 

In the meantime Arthur had news brought him, that a giant 
of monstrous size was come from the shores of Spain, and 
had forcibly taken away Helena, the niece of duke Hoel, 
from her guard, and fled with her to the top of that which 
is now called Michael's Mount ;* and that the soldiers of the 
country who pursued him were able to do nothing against, 
him. For whether they attacked him by sea or land, he 
either overturned their ships with vast rocks, or killed them 
with several sorts of darts, besides many of them that he 
took and devoured half alive. The next night, therefore, at 
the second hour, Arthur, taking along with him Caius the 
sewer, and Bedver the butler, went out privately from the 
camp, and hastened towards the mountain. For being a man 
of undaunted courage, he did not care to lead his army 
against such monsters ; both because he could in this manner 
animate his men by his own example, and also because he 
was alone sufficient to deal with them. As soon as they 
came near the mountain, they saw a fire burning upon the top 
of it, and another on a lesser mountain, that was not far 
from it. And being in doubt upon which of them the giant 
dwelt, they sent away Bedver to know the certainty of the 
matter. So he, finding a boat, sailed over in it first to the 
lesser mountain, to which he could in no other way have 
access, because it was situated in the sea. When he had 
begun to climb up to the top of it, he was at first frightened 
with a dismal howling cry of a woman from above, and 
imagined the monster to be there : but quickly rousing up 
his courage, he drew his sword, and having reached the top,, 

* This most romantic and interesting rock is crowned by a angularly 
quaint structure, half monastic and half castellated. It must have been a 
place of great strength before the invention of powder, and con taint some 
curious rooms, a dungeon and other remains of feudality. 


found nothing but the fire which he had before seen at a dis- 
tance. He discovered also a grave newly made, and an old 
woman weeping and howling by it, who at the sight of him 
instantly cried out in words interrupted with sighs, " O, un- 
happy man, what misfortune brings you to this place ? O the 
inexpressible tortures of death that you must suffer ! I pity 
you, I pity you, because the detestable monster will this night 
destroy the flower of your youth. For that most wicked and 
odious giant, who brought the duke's niece, whom I have just 
now buried here, and me, her nurse, along with her into this 
mountain, will come and immediately murder you in a most 
cruel manner. O deplorable fate ! This most illustrious 
princess, sinking under the fear her tender heart conceived, 
while the foul monster would have embraced her, fainted 
away and expired. And when he could not satiate his 
brutish lust upon her, who was the very soul, joy, and happi- 
ness of my life, being enraged at the disappointment of his 
bestial desire, he forcibly committed a rape upon me, who 
(let God and my old age witness) abhorred his embraces. 
Fly, dear sir, fly, for fear he may come, as he usually does, 
to lie with me, and finding you here most barbarously butcher 
you." Bedver, moved at what she said, as much as it is 
possible for human nature to be, endeavoured with kind 
words to assuage her grief, and to comfort her with the 
promise of .speedy help : and then returned back to Arthur, 
and gave him an account of what he had met with. Arthur 
very much lamented the damsel's sad fate, and ordered his 
companions to leave him to deal with him alone ; unless there 
was an absolute necessity, and then they were to come in 
boldly to his assistance. From hence they went directly to 
the next mountain, leaving their horses with their armour- 
bearers, and ascended to the top, Arthur leading the way. 
The deformed savage was then by the fire, with his face 
besmeared with the clotted blood of swine, part of which he 
already devoured, and was roasting the remainder upon spits 
by the fire. But at the sight of them, whose appearance 
was a surprise to him, he hastened to his club, which two 
strong men could hardly lift from the ground. Upon this 
the king drew his sword, and guarding himself with his 
shield, ran with all his speed to prevent his getting it. But 
the other, who was not ignorant of his design, had by this 

254 Geoffrey's British history. lw« 

time snatched it up, and gave the king such a terrible blow 
upon his shield, that he made the shores ring with the noise, 
and perfectly stunned the king's ears with it. Arthur, fired 
with rage at this, lifted up his sword, and gave him a wound 
in the forehead, which was not indeed mortal, but yet such 
as made the blood gush out over his face and eyes, and so 
blinded him ; for he had partly warded off the stroke from 
his forehead with his club, and prevented its being fatal. 
However, his loss of sight, by reason of the blood flowing 
over his eyes, made him exert himself with greater fury, and 
like an enraged boar against a hunting-spear, so did he rush 
in against Arthur's sword, and grasping him about the waist, 
forced him down upon his knees. But Arthur, nothing 
daunted, slipped out of his hands, and so exerted himself 
with his sword, that he gave the giant no respite till he had 
struck it up to the very back through his skull. At this 
the hideous monster raised a dreadful roar, and like an oak 
torn up from the roots by the winds, so did he make the 
ground resound with his fall. Arthur, bursting out into a 
St of laughter at the sight, commanded Bedver to cut off his 
head, and give it to one of the armour-bearers, who was to 
carry it to the camp, and there expose it to public view, 
but with orders for the spectators of this combat to keep 
silence. He told them he had found none of so great strength, 
since he killed the giant Ritho, who had challenged him to 
fight, upon the mountain Aravius. This giant had made 
himself furs of the beards of kings he had killed, and had 
sent word to Arthur carefully to cut off his beard and send 
it to him ; and then, out of respect %o his pre-eminence over 
other kings, his beard should have the honour of the principal 
place. But if he refused to do it, he challenged him to a 
duel, with this offer, thaLftft^ conqueror should have the furs, 
and also the beard ^wnV vanquished for a trophy of his 
victory. In his co^^bt, therefore, Arthur proved victorious, 
and took the beard and spoils of the giant : and, as he said 
before, had met with none that could be compared to him 
for strength, till his last engagement. After this victory, 
they returned at the second watch of the night to the camp 
with the head ; to see which there was a great concourse of 
people, all extolling this wonderful exploit of Arthur, by 
which he had freed the country from a most destructive and 


voracious monster. But Hoel, in great grief for the loss of 
his niece, commanded a mausoleum to be built over her body 
in the mountain where she was buried, which, taking the 
damsel's name, is called Helena's Tomb to this day. 

Chap. IV. — Arthur's ambassadors to Lucius Tiberius deliver Petreius 
Cotta, whom they took prisoner to Arthur. 

As soon as all the forces were arrived which Arthur expected, 
he marched from thence to Augustodunum, where Jie sup- 
posed the general was. But when he came to the river 
Alba, he had intelligence brought him of his having encamped 
not far off, and that he was come with so vast an army, that 
he would not be able to withstand it. However, this did not 
deter him from pursuing his enterprise ; but he pitched his 
camp upon the bank of the river, to facilitate the bringing 
up of his forces, and to secure his retreat, if there should be 
occasion 5 and sent Boso the consul of Oxford, and Guerinus 
Carnotensis, with his nephew Walgan, to Lucius Tiberius, 
requiring him either to retire from the coasts of Gaul, or 
come the next day, that they might try their right to that 
country with their swords. The retinue of young courtiers 
that attended Walgan, highly rejoicing at this opportunity, 
were urgent with him to find some occasion for a quarrel in 
the commander's camp, that so they might engage the Romans. 
Accordingly they went to Lucius, and commanded him to 
retire out of Gaul, or hazard a battle the next day. But 
while he was answering them, that he was not come to retire, 
but to govern the country, there was present Caius Quintili- 
anus, his nephew, who said, " That the Britons were better 
at boasting and threatening, than they were at fighting." 
Walgan immediately took fire at this, and ran upon him with 
his drawn sword, wherewith he cut off his head, and then 
retreated speedily with his companions to their horses. The 
Romans, both horse and foot, pursued to revenge the loss of 
their countryman upon the ambassadors, who fled with great 
precipitation. But Guerinus Carnotensis, just as one of 
them was come up to him, rallied on a sudden, and with his 
lance struck at once through his armour and the very middle 
of his body, and laid him prostrate on the ground. The 
sight of this noble exploit raised the emulation of Boso of 
Oxford, who, wheeling about his horse, struck his lance into 

256 Geoffrey's British history, [ 

the throat of the first man he met with, and dismounted him 
mortally wounded. In the meantime, Marcellus Mutius, 
with great eagerness to revenge Quintilian's death, was just 
upon the back of Walgan, and laid hold of him ; which the 
other quickly obliged him to quit, by cleaving both his 
helmet and head to the breast with his sword. He also bade 
him, when he arrived at the infernal regions, tell the man he 
had killed in the camp, " That in this manner the Britons 
showed their boasting and threatening." Then having re- 
assembled his men, he encouraged them to despatch every 
one his pursuer in the same manner as he had done ; which 
accordingly they did not fail to accomplish. Notwithstand- 
ing, the Romans continued their pursuit with lances and 
swords, wherewith they annoyed the others, though without 
slaughter or taking any prisoners. But as they came near a 
certain wood, a party of six thousand Britons, who seeing 
the flight of the consuls, had hid themselves, to be in readi- 
ness for their assistance, sallied forth, and putting spurs to 
their horses, rent the air with their loud shouts, and being 
well fenced with their shields, assaulted the Romans sud- 
denly, and forced them to fly. And now it was the Britons' 
turn to pursue, which they did with better success, for they 
dismounted, killed, or took several of the enemy. Petreius, 
the senator, upon this news, hastened to the assistance of his 
countrymen with ten thousand men, and compelled the Britons 
to retreat to the wood from whence they had sallied forth ; 
though not without loss of his own men. For the Britons, 
being well acquainted with the ground, in their flight killed 
a great number of their pursuers. The Britons thus giving 
ground, Hider, with another reinforcement of five thousand 
men, advanced with speed to sustain them ; so that they 
again faced those, upon whom they had turned their backs, 
and renewed the assault with great vigour. The Romans 
also stood their ground, and continued the fight with various 
success. The great fault of the Britons was, that though 
they had been very eager to begin the fight, yet when begun 
they were less careful of the hazard they ran. Whereas the 
Romans were under better discipline, and had the advantage 
of a prudent commander, Petreius Cotta, to tell them where 
to advance, and where to give ground, and by these means 
did great injury to the enemy. When Boso observed thia^ 


he drew off from the rest a large party of those whom he 
knew to be the stoutest men, and spoke to them after thig 
manner : " Since we have begun this fight without Arthur's 
knowledge, we must take care that we be not defeated in 
the enterprise. For, if we should, we shall both very much 
endanger our men, and incur the king's high displeasure. 
Rouse up your courage, and follow me through the Roman 
squadrons, that with the favour of good fortune we may 
either kill or take Petreius prisoner." With this they put 
spurs to their horses, and piercing through the enemies' 
thickest ranks, reached the place where Petreius was giving 
his commands. Boso hastily ran in upon him, and grasping 
him about the neck, fell with him to the ground, as he had 
intended. The Romans hereupon ran to his delivery, as did 
the Britons to Boso's assistance ; which occasioned on both 
sides great slaughter, noise, and confusion, while one party 
strove to rescue their leader, and the other to keep him 
prisoner. So that this proved the sharpest part of the whole 
fight, and wherein their spears, swords, and arrows had the 
fullest employment. At length, the Britons, joining in a 
close body, and sustaining patiently the assaults of the 
Romans, retired to the main body of their army with Pe- 
treius : which they had no sooner done, than they again 
attacked them, being now deprived of their leader, very much 
weakened, dispirited, and just beginning to flee. They, 
therefore, eagerly pursued, beat down, and killed several of 
them, and as soon as they had plundered them, pursued the 
rest : but they took the greatest number of them prisoners, 
being desirous to present them to the king. When they had 
at last sufficiently harassed them, they returned with their 
plunder and prisoners to the camp ; where they gave an 
account of what had happened, and presented Petreius Cotta 
with the other prisoners before Arthur, with great joy for 
the victory. Arthur congratulated them upon it, and pro- 
mised them advancement to greater honours, for behaving 
themselves so gallantly when he was absent from them. 
Then he gave his command to some of his men, to conduct 
the prisoners the next day to Paris, and deliver them to b« 
kept in custody there till further orders. The party that 
were to undertake this charge, he ordered to be conducted 
by Cador, Bedver, and the two consuls, Borellus and Rich* 


258 Geoffrey's British history. [book x. «. «. 

erius, with tlieir servants, till they should be oat of all fear 
of disturbance from the Romans. - 

Chap. V. — TV* Romans attack the Britons with a very great force f but 
are put to /light by them. 

But the Romans, happening to get intelligence of their de- 
sign, at the command of their general chose out fifteen thou- 
sand men, who that night were to get before the others ia 
their march, and rescue their fellow soldiers out of their 
hands. They were to be commanded by Vulteius Catellus- 
and Quintus Carutius, senators, as also Evander, king of 
Syria, and Sertorius, king of Libya. Accordingly they 
began their march that very night, and possessed them- 
selves of a place convenient for lying in ambuscade, through 
which they supposed the others would pass. In the- 
morning the Britons set forward along the same road with 
their prisoners, and were now approaching the place in per- 
fect ignorance of the cunning stratagem of the enemy. No* 
sooner had they entered it, than the Romans, to their great 
surprise, sprang forth and fell furiously upon them. Not- 
withstanding, the Britons, at length recovering from their 
consternation, assembled together, and prepared for a bold 
opposition, by appointing a party to guard the prisoners, and 
drawing out the rest in order of battle against the enemy- 
Richerius and Bedver had the command of the party that 
were set over the prisoners ; but Cador, duke of Cornwall^ 
and Borellus headed the others. But all the Romans had 
made their sally without being placed in any order, and 
cared not to form themselves, that they might lose no time 
in the slaughter of the Britons, whom they saw busied in 
marshalling their troops, and preparing only for their 
defence. By this conduct the Britons were extremely weak- 
ened, and would have shamefully lost their prisoners, had 
not good fortune rendered them assistance. ForGu'fru. 
commander of the Pictavians, happened to get inform. ti«»: 
of the designed stratagem, and was come up with three the i- 
sand men, by the help of which they at last got the advan- 
tage, and paid back the slaughter upon their insolent a ^ail- 
ants. Nevertheless, the loss which they sustained a* Oio 
beginning of this action was very considerable. For 'ney 


Jost Borellus, the famous consul of the Cenomanni, in an 
encounter with Evander, king of Syria, who stuck his lance 
into his throat ; besides four noblemen, viz. Hirelgas Depe- 
rirus, Mauricius Cadorcanensis, Aliduc of Tintagel, and 
Hider his son, than whom braver men were hardly to be 
found. But yet neither did this loss dispirit the Britons, but 
rather made them more resolute to keep the prisoners, and kill 
the enemy. The Romans, now finding themselves unable to 
maintain the fight any longer, suddenly quitted the field, and 
made towards their camp ; but were pursued with slaughter 
by the Britons, who also took many of them, and allowed 
them no respite till they had killed Vulteius Catellus and 
Evander, king of Syria, and wholly dispersed the rest. 
After which they sent away their former prisoners to Paris, 
whither they were to conduct them, and returned back with 
those newly taken to the king ; to whom they gave great 
hopes of a complete conquest of their enemies, since very 
few of the great number that came against them had met 
with any success. 

Chap. VI. — Lucius Tiberius goes to Lengria. Arthur, designing to van- 
quish him, by a stratagem possesses himself of the valley ofSuesia. 

These repeated disasters wrought no small disturbance in 
the mind of Lucius Tiberius, and made him hesitate whether 
to bring it to a general battle with Arthur, or to retire into 
Augu3todunum, and stay till the emperor Leo with his forces 
could come to his assistance. At length, giving way to his fears, 
he entered Lengriae with his army, intending to reach the other 
city the night following. Arthur, finding this, and being 
desirous to get before him in his march, left the city on the 
left hand, and the same night entered a certain valley called 
Suesia, through which Lucius was to pass. There he 
divided his men into several bodies, commanding one legion, 
over which Morvid, consul of Gloucester, was appointed 
general, to wait close by, that he might retreat to them if 
there should be occasion, and from thence rally his broken 
forces for a second battle. The rest he divided into seven 
parts, in each of which he placed five thousand five hundred 
and fifty-five men, all completely armed. He also appointed 
different stations to his horse and foot, and gave command 

a 2 


that just as the foot should advance to the attack, the horse, 
keeping close together in their ranks, should at the same 
moment march up obliquely, and endeavour to put the 
enemy into disorder. The companies of foot were, after the 
British manner, drawn out into a square, with a right and 
left wing, under the command of Augusel, king of Albania, 
and Cador, duke of Cornwall; the one presiding over the 
right wing, the other over the left. Over another party 
were placed the two famous consuls, Guerinus of Chartres 
and Boso of Richiden, called in the Saxon tongue Oxineford ; 
over a third were Aschillius, king of the Dacians, and Lot, 
king of the Norwegians ; the fourth being commanded by 
Hoel, duke of the Armoricans, and Walgan, the king's 
nephew. After these were four other parties placed in the 
rear ; the first commanded by Caius the sewer, and Bedver 
the butler ; the second by Holdin, duke of the Ruteni, and 
Guitard of the Pictavians ; the third by Vigenis of Lege- 
cester, Jonathal of Dorchester, and Cursalem of Caicester ; 
the fourth by Urbgennius of Bath. Behind all these, 
Arthur, for himself and the legion that was to attend near 
him, made choice of a place, where he set up a golden 
dragon for a standard, whither the wounded or fatigued 
might in case of necessity retreat, as into their camp. The 
legion that was with him consisted of six thousand six hun- 
dred and sixty-six men. 

Chap. VII. — Arthur's exhortation to hit soldiers. 

After he had thus placed them all in their stations, he 
made the following speech to his soldiers: — "My brave 
countrymen, who have made Britain the mistress of thirty 
kingdoms, I congratulate you upon your late noble exploit, 
which to me is a proof that your valour is so far from being 
impaired, that it is rather increased. Though you have 
been five years without exercise, wherein the softening 
pleasures of an easy life had a greater share of your time 
than the use of arms ; yet all this has not made you degene- . 
rate from your natural bravery, which you have shown in 
forcing the Romans to flee. The pride of their leaders has 
animated them to attempt the invasion of your liberties. 
They have tried you in battle, with numbers superior to 


fours, and have not been able to stand before 70a ; but have 
basely withdrawn themselves into that city, from which they 
are now ready to march out, and to pass through this valley 
in their way to Augustodunum ; so that you may have an 
opportunity of falling upon them unawares like a flock of 
sheep. Certainly they expected to find in you the cowardice 
of the Eastern nations, when they thought to make your 
country tributary, and you their slaves. What, have they 
never heard of your wars, with the Dacians, Norwegians, 
and princes of the Gauls, whom you reduced under my 
power, and freed from their shameful yoke ? We, then, that 
have had success in a greater war, need not doubt of it in a 
less, if we do but endeavour with the same spirit to vanquish 
these poltroons. You shall want no rewards of honour, 
if as faithful soldiers you do but strictly obey my com- 
mands. For as soon as we have routed them, we will 
march straight to Rome, and take it ; and then all the 
gold, silver, palaces, towers, towns, cities, and other riches 
of the vanquished shall be yours." He had hardly done 
speaking before they all with one voice declared, that they 
were ready to suffer death, rather than quit the field while 
he had life. 

Chap. VIII. — Lucius Tiberius, discovering Arthur's design, in a speech 
animates his followers to fight. 

But Lucius Tiberius, discovering the designs that were 
formed against him, would not flee, as he had at first in- 
tended, but taking new courage, resolved to march to the 
same valley against them ; and calling together his principal 
commanders, spoke to them in these words: — "Venerable 
fathers, to whose empire both the Eastern and Western 
kingdoms owe obedience, remember the virtues of your 
ancestors, who were not afraid to shed their blood, when the 
vanquishing of the enemies of the commonwealth required 
it ; but to leave an example of their courage and military 
virtues to their posterity, behaved themselves in all battles 
with that contempt of death, as if God had given them some 
security against it. By this conduct they often triumphed, 
and by triumphing escaped death. Such was the reward of 
their virtue from Divine Providence, which overrules all 
•vents. The increase of the commonwealth, and of their 

262 UEOFFItEY'S BRITISH HISTORY f book x. ch. 3. 

own valour was owing to this ; and all those virtues that 
usually adorn the great, as integrity, honour, and munifi- 
cence, flourishing a long time in them, raised them and their 
posterity to the empire of the whole world. Let their noble 
examples animate you : rouse up the spirit of the ancient Ro- 
mans, and be not afraid to march out against our enemies that 
are lying in ambush before us in the valley, but boldly with 
your swords demand of them your just rights. Do not think 
that I retired into this city for fear of engaging with them ; 
but I thought that, as their pursuit of us was rash and foolish, 
so we might hence on a sudden intercept them in it, and by 
dividing their main body make a great slaughter of them. 
But now, since they have altered the measures which we 
supposed they had taken, let us also alter ours. Let us go 
in quest of them and bravely fall upon them ; or if they 
shall happen to have the advantage in the beginning of the 
battle, let us only stand our ground during the fury of their 
first assault, and the victory will undoubtedly be ours ; for 
in many battles this manner of conduct has been attended 
with victory." As soon as he had made an end of speaking 
these and other things, they all declared their assent, pro- 
mised with an oath to stand by him, and hastened to arm 
themselves. Which when they had done, they marched 
out of Lengriae to the valley where Arthur had drawn out 
his forces in order of battle. Then they also began to mar- 
shal their army, which they divided into twelve companies, 
and according to the Roman manner of battle, drew out each 
company into the form of a wedge, consisting of six thou- 
sand six hundred and sixty-six men. Each company also 
had its respective leaders, who were to give direction when 
to advance, or when to be upon the defensive. One of them 
was headed by Lucius Cateflus the senator, and Alifantinam, 
king of Spain ; another by Hirtacius, king of the Parthians, 
and Marius Lepidus, a senator ; a third by Boccus, king of 
the Medes, and Caius Metellus, a senator ; a fourth by Ser- 
torius, king of Libya, and Quintus Milvius, a senator. 
These four companies were placed in the front of the 
army. In the rear of these were four others, whereof 
one was commanded by Serses, king of the Itureans; 
another by Pandrasus, king of Egypt; a third by Poly- 
tetea, duke of Bithynia; a fourth by Teueer, duke of 


Phrygia. And again behind all' these four others, thereof 
the commanders were Quintus Carucius, a senator, Laalius 
Ostiensis, Sulpitius Subuculus, and Mauritius Sylvanus. 
As for the general himself, he was sometimes in one place, 
sometimes another, to encourage and direct as there should 
be occasion. For a standard he ordered a golden eagle 
to be firmly set up in the centre, for his men to repair tc 
whenever they should happen to be separated from their 

Chap. IX. — A battle between Arthur and Lucius Tiberius* * 

And now the Britons and Romans stood presenting their 
arms at one another ; when forthwith at the sound of the 
trumpets, the company that was headed by the king of Spain 
and Lucius Catefius, boldly rushed forward against that 
which the king of Scotland and duke of Cornwall led, but 
were not able to make the least breach in their firm ranks. 
So that while these stood their ground, up came Guerinus 
and Boso with a body of horse upon their full speed, broke 
through the party that began the assault, and met with 
another which the king of the Farthians was leading up 
against Aschillius, king of Dacia. After this first onset, 
there followed a general engagement of both armies with 
great violence, and several breaches were made on each side. 
The shouts, the slaughter, the quantity of blood spilled, and 
the agonies of the dying, made a dreadful scene of horror 
At first, the Britons sustained a great loss, by having Bedvei 
the butler killed, and Caius the sewer mortally wounded. 
For, as Bedver met Boccus, king of the Medes, he fell dead 
by a stab of his lance amidst the enemies' troops. And 
-Caius, in endeavouring to revenge his death, was surrounded 
by the Median troops, and there received a mortal wound ;' 
yet as a brave soldier he opened himself a way with the wing 
which he led, killed and dispersed the Medes, and would 
have made a safe retreat with all his men, had he not met 
the king of Libya with the forces under him, who put his 
whole company into disorder ; yet not so great, but that he 
was still able to get off with a few, and flee with Bedver's 
corps to the golden dragon. The Neustrians grievously 
lamented at the sight of their leader's mangled body ; and so 


did the Andegavians, when they beheld their consul wounded 
But there was now no room for complaints, for the furious 
and bloody shocks of both armies made it necessary tc 
provide for their own defence. Therefore Hirelgas, the 
nephew of Bedver, being extremely enraged at his death, 
called up to him three hundred men, and like a wild boar 
amongst a pack of dogs, broke through the enemies' ranks 
with his horse, making towards the place where he had seen 
the standard of the king of the Medes ; little regarding what 
might befall him, if he could but revenge the loss of his 
uncle. At length he reached the place, killed the king, 
brought off his body to his companions, and laid it by that 
of his uncle, where he mangled it in the same manner. Then 
calling with a loud voice to his countrymen, he animated 
their troops, and vehemently pressed them to exert them- 
selves to the utmost, now that their spirits were raised, and 
the enemy disheartened ; and especially as they had the 
advantage of them in being placed in better order, and so 
might the more grievously annoy them. Encouraged with 
this exhortation, they began a general assault upon the 
enemy, which was attended with a terrible slaughter on both 
sides. For on the part of the Romans, besides many others, 
fell Alifantinam, king of Spain, Micipsa of Babylon, as also 
Quintus Milvius and Marius Lepidus, senators. On the part 
of the Britons, Holdin, king of the Ruteni, Leodegarius of 
Bolonia, and three consuls of Britain, Cursalem of Caicester, 
Galluc of Salisbury, and Urbgennius of Bath. So that the 
troops which they commanded, being extremely weakened, 
retreated till they came to the army of the Armorican 
Britons, commanded by Hoel and Walgan. But these, 
being inflamed at the retreat of their friends, encouraged 
them to stand their ground, and caused them with the help 
of their own forces to put their pursuers to flight. While 
they continued this pursuit, they beat down and killed 
several of them, and gave them no respite, till they came 
to the general's troop ; who, seeing the distress of his com- 
panions, hastened to their assistance. 

Chap. X. — Hoel and Walgan signalize their valour in the fight. 
And now in this latter encounter the Britons were worsted 
with the loss of Kimarcoc, consul of Trigeria, and two thou- 

M.9.520-UQ.) LUCirS TIBER1U8 KILLED. 266 

sand with him ; besides three famous noblemen, Richomarcug, 
Bloccovius, and Jagivius of Bodloan, who, had they but 
enjoyed the dignity of princes, would have been celebrated 
for their valour through all succeeding ages. For, during 
this assault which they made in conjunction with Hoel and 
Walgan, there was not an enemy within their reach that 
could escape the fury of their sword or lance. But upon 
their falling in among Lucius's party, they were surrounded 
by them, and suffered the same fate with the consul and the 
other men. The loss of these men made those matchless 
heroes, Hoel and Walgan, much more eager to assault the 
general's ranks, and to try on all sides where to make the 
greatest impression. But Walgan, whose valour was never 
to be foiled, endeavoured to gain access to Lucius himself, 
that he might encounter him, and with this view beat down 
and killed all that stood in his way. And Hoel, not inferior 
to him, did no less service in another part, by spiriting up 
his men, and giving and receiving blows among the enemy 
with the same undaunted courage. It was hard to determine, 
which of them was the stoutest soldier. 

Chap. XI. — Lucius Tiberius being killed, the Britons obtain the victory. 

But Walgan, by forcing his way through the enemy's troops, 
as we said before, found at last (what he had wished for) 
access to the general, and immediately encountered him. 
Lucius, being then in the flower of his youth, and a person 
of great courage and vigour, desired nothing more than to 
engage with such a one as might put his strength to its full 
trial. Putting himself, therefore, into a posture of defence, he 
received Walgan with joy, and was not a little proud to try 
his courage with one of whom he had heard such great things* 
The fight continued between them a long time, with great 
force of blows, and no less dexterity in warding them off, 
each being resolved upon the other's destruction. During 
this sharp conflict between them, the Romans, on a sudden, 
recovering their courage, made an assault upon the Ameri- 
cans, and having relieved their general, repulsed Hoel and 
Walgan, with their troops, till they found themselves 
unawares met by Arthur and the forces under him. For 
he, hearing of the slaughter that was a little before made 

266 Geoffrey's British history. lk»ki ch.u. 

of his men, had speedily advanced with his legion, and 
drawing out his Caliburn, spoke to them, with a loud voice, 
after this manner : " What are you doing, soldiers ? Will 
you suffer these effeminate wretches to escape ? Let not one 
of them get off alive. Kemember the force of your arms, * 
that have reduced thirty kingdoms under my subjection. 
Remember your ancestors, whom the Romans, when at the* . 
height of their power, made tributary. Remember your 
liberties, which these pitiful fellows, that are much your 
inferiors, attempt to deprive you of. Let none of them 
escape alive. What are you doing ? " With these expos- 
tulations, he rushed upon the enemy, made terrible havoc 
among them, and not a man did he meet but at one blow 
he laid either him or his horse dead upon the ground. They, 
therefore, in astonishment fled from him, as a flock of sheep 
from a tierce lion, whom raging hunger provokes to devour 
whatever happens to come near him. Their arms were no 
manner of protection to them against the force with which 
this valiant prince wielded his Caliburn. Two kings, 
Sertorius of Libya, and Polytetes of Bithynia, unfortunately 
felt its fury, and had their heads cut off by it. The Britons, 
when they saw the king performing such wonders, took 
courage again. With one consent they assaulted the 
Romans, kept close together in their ranks; and while 
they assailed the foot in one part, endeavoured to beat 
down and pierce through the horse in another. Notwith- 
standing, the Romans made a brave defence, and at the 
instigation of Lucius laboured to pay back their slaughter *•» 
upon the Britons. The eagerness and force that were now • 
shown on both sides were as great as if it was the beginning ■ 
of the battle. Arthur continued to do great execution with • 
his own hand, and encouraged the Britons to maintain the - 
fight ; as Lucius Tiberius did the Romans, and made them < 
perform many memorable exploits. He himself, in the * 
meantime, was very active in going from place to place, i 
and suffered none to escape with life that happened to come . 
within the reach of his sword or lance. The slaughter that < 
was now made on both sides was very dreadful, and tho 
turns of fortune various, sometimes the Britons prevailing, . 
sometimes the Romans. At last, while this sharp dispute 
continued, Morvid, consul of Gloucester, with his lagion, 

A.D. 520-540 .] SURRENDER OF THE ROMANS. 267 

which, as we said before, was* placed between the hills, came 
up with speed upon the rear of the enemy, and to their great 
surprise assaulted, broke thr6ugh, and dispersed them with 
great slaughter. This last arid decisive blow proved fatal to 
many thousands of Romans, and even to the general Lucius 
himself, who was killed among the crowds with a lance by 
an unknown hand. But the Britons, by long maintaining 
the fight, at last with great difficulty gained the victory. 

Chap, XII. — Part of the Romans flee ; the rest, of their own accord, 
surrender themselves for slaves. 

The Romans, being now, therefore, dispersed, betook them- 
selves through fear 1 , some to the by-ways and woods, some to 
the cities and towns, and all other places, where they could 
be most safe ?'but were either killed or taken and plundered 
by the Britons who pursued : so that great part of them 
voluntarily and shamefully held forth their hands, to receive 
their chains, in order to prolong for a while a wretched life. 
In all which the justice of Divine Providence was very 
visible ; considering how unjustly the ancestors of the Britons 
were formerly invaded and harassed by those of the Romans ; 
and that these stood only in defence of that liberty, which 
the others would have deprived them of ; and refused the 
tribute, which the others had no right to demand. 

Chap. XIIL— The bodies of the slain are decently buried, each in their 
respective countries. 

Arthur, after he had completed his victory, gave orders for 
separating the bodies of his nobility from those of the enemy, 
and preparing a pompous funeral for them ; and that, when 
ready, they should be carried to the abbeys of their repective 
countries, there to be honourably buried. But Bedver the 
butler was, with great lamentation of the Neustrians, carried 
to his own city Bajocae, which Bedver the first, his great 
grandfather, had built. There he was, with great solemnity, 
laid' close by the wall, in a burying-place on the south side of 
the city/ But' Cheudo was carried; grievously wounded to 
Camus, a town which he' had himself built, where in a short 
time he died of his wounds, and was buried, as became a 
duke of Andegavia, in a' convent ' of hermits, which was in 
a wood not far from the town. Also Holdin, duke of Ruteni, 

268 Geoffrey's British history. [boo.xi.oli. 

was carried to Flanders, and buried in his own city Terivana. 
The other consuls and noblemen were conveyed to the neigh- 
bouring abbeys, according to Arthur's orders. Out of his 
great clemency, also, he ordered the country people to take 
care of the burial of the enemy, and to carry the body of 
Lucius to the senate, and tell them, that was the only tribute 
which Britain ought to pay them. After this he stayed in 
those parts till the next winter was over, and employed hv 
time in reducing the cities of the Allobroges. But at the 
beginning of the following summer, as he was on his march 
towards Rome, and was beginning to pass the Alps, he had 
news brought him that his nephew Modred, to whose care 
he had entrusted Britain, had by tyrannical and treasonable 
practices set the crown upon his own head ; and that queen 
Guanhumara, in violation of her first marriage, had wickedly 
married him. 


Chap. I. — Modred makes a great slaughter of Arthur's men, but if 
beaten, andjiees to Winchester. 

Of the matter now to be treated of, most noble consul, 
Geoffrey of Monmouth shall be silent ; but will, nevertheless, 
though in a mean style, briefly relate what he found in the 
British book above mentioned, and heard from that most 
learned historian, Walter, archdeacon of Oxford, concerning 
the wars which this renowned king, upon his return to Britain 
after this victory, waged against his nephew. As soon, 
therefore, as the report, of this flagrant wickedness reached 
him, he immediately desisted from his enterprise against Leo, 
king of the Romans ; and having sent away Hoel, duke of 
the Armoricans, with the army of Gaul, to restore peace in 
those parts, returned back with speed to Britain, attended 
only by the kings of the islands, and their armies. But the 
wicked traitor, Modred, had sent Cheldric, the Saxon leader, 
into Germany, there to raise all the forces he could find, and 
return with all speed : and in consideration of this service, 
had promised him all that part of the island which reaches 


from the Humber to Scotland, and whatever Hengist and 
Horsa had possessed of Kent in the time of Vortigern. So 
that he, in obedience to his commands, had arrived with 
eight hundred ships filled with pagan soldiers, and had 
entered into covenant to obey the traitor as his sovereign ; 
who had also drawn to his assistance the Scots, Picts, Irish, 
and all others whom he knew to be enemies to his uncle. 
His whole army, taking pagans and Christians together, 
amounted to eighty thousand men ; with the help of whom 
he met Arthur just after his landing at the port of Rutupi, 
and joining battle with him, made a very great slaughter of 
his men. For the same day fell Augusel, king of Albania, 
and Walgan, the king's nephew, with innumerable others. 
Augusel was succeeded in his kingdom by Eventus, his 
brother Urian's son, who afterwards performed many famous 
exploits in those wars. After they had at last, with much 
difficulty, got ashore, they paid back the slaughter, and put 
Modred and his army to flight. For, by long practice in 
war, they had learned an excellent way of ordering their 
forces ; which was so managed, that while their foot were 
employed either in an assault or upon the defensive, the 
horse would come in at full speed obliquely, break through 
the enemy's ranks, and so force them to flee. Nevertheless, 
this perjured usurper got his forces together again, and the 
night following entered Winchester. As soon as queen 
Guanhumara heard this, she immediately, despairing of suc- 
cess, fled from York to the City of Legions, where she resolved 
to lead a chaste life among the nuns in the church of Julius 
the Martyr, and entered herself one of their order. 

Chap. II. — Modred, after being twice besieged and routed, is killed, 
Arthur, being wounded, gives up the kingdom to Conslantine. 

But Arthur, whose anger was now much more inflamed, 
upon the loss of so many hundreds of his fellow soldiers, 
after he had buried his slain, went on the third day to the 
city, and there besieged the traitor, who, notwithstanding, 
was unwilling to desist from his enterprise, but used all 
methods to encourage his adherents, and marching out with 
his troops prepared to fight his uncle. In the battle that 
followed hereupon, great numbers lost their lives on both 
fides ; but at last Modred's army suffered most, so that h« 

270 GEOFFREl's BRITISH HISTORY. jjook xi. ch, 1 

was forced to quit the field shamefully. From hence he made 
a precipitate flight, and, without taking any care for the 
burial of his slain, marched in haste towards Cornwall. 
Arthur, being inwardly grieved that he should so often 
escape, forthwith pursued him into that country as far as the 
river Cambula, where the other was expecting his coming. 
And Modred, as he was the boldest of men, and always the 
quickest at making an attack, immediately placed his troops 
in order, resolving either to conquer or to die, rather than 
continue his flight any longer. He had yet remaining with 
him sixty thousand men, out of whom he composed three 
bodies, which contained each of them six thousand six hun- 
dred and sixty-six men : but all the rest he joined in one 
body ; and having assigned to each of the other parties their 
leaders, he took the command of this upon himself. After 
he had made this disposition of his forces, he endeavoured to 
animate them, and promised them the estates of their enemies 
if they came off with victory. Arthur, on the other side, 
also marshalled his army, which he divided into nine square 
companies, with a right and left wing ; and having appointed 
to each of them their commanders, exhorted them to make a 
total rout of those robbers and perjured villains, who, being 
brought over into the island from foreign countries at the 
instance of the arch-traitor, were attempting to rob them of 
all their honours. He likewise told them that a mixed army 
composed of barbarous people of so many different countries, 
and who were all raw soldiers and inexperienced in war, 
would never be able to stand against such brave veteran 
troops as they were, provided they did their duty. After 
this encouragement given by each general to his fellow 
soldiers, the battle on a sudden began with great fury ; 
wherein it would be both grievous and tedious to relate the 
slaughter, the cruel havoc, and the excess of fury that was 
to be seen on both sides. In this manner they spent a good 
part of the day, till Arthur at last made a push w T ith his com- 
pany, consisting of six thousand Bix hundred and sixty-six 
men, against that in which he knew Modred was ; and having 
opened a way with their swords, they pierced ^ulte through 
it, and made a grievous slaughter. For in this as- -Mt fell 
the wicked traitor himself, and many thousands ^ Ub him. 
But notwithstanding the loss of him, the rest fii! not flee, 

. 4.D.542.] REBELLION OF THE SAXOBS. 27 1 

but running together from all parts of the field maintained 
their ground with undaunted courage. The fight now 
grew more furious than ever, and proved fatal to almost all 
the commanders and their forced For on Modred's side fell 
Cheldric, Elasius, Egbrict,' and Bunignus, Saxons ; Gilla- 
patric, Gillamor, Gistafel, and Gillarius, Irish ; also the 
Scots and Picts, with almost all their leaders : on Arthur's 
side, Olbrict, king of Norway ; Aschillius, king of Dacia ; 
Cador Limenic Cassibellaun, with many thousands of others, as 
well Britons as foreigners, that he had brought with him* / 
And even the renowned king Arthur himself was mortally 
wounded ; and being carried thence to the isle of Avallon to 
be cured of his wounds, he gave up the crown of Britain to 
his kinsman Constantine, the son of Cador, duke of Corn- 
wall, in the five hundred and forty -second year of our Lord's- 

Chap. III. — Constantine meets with disturbances from the Sjxohs and 
Modred's sons* 

Upon Constantine's advancement to the throne, the Saxons, 
with the two sons of Modred, made insurrection against him, 
though without success ; for after many battles they fled, 
one to London, the other to Winchester, and possessed them- 
selves of those places. Then died Saint Daniel, the pious 
prelate of the church of Bangor; and Theon, bishop of 
Gloucester, was elected archbishop of London. At the 
same time also died David, the pious archbishop of Legions, 
at the city of Menevia, in his own abbey ; which he loved 
Above all the other monasteries of his diocese, because Saint 
Patrick, who had prophetically foretold his birth, was the 
founder of it. For during his residence there among hia 
friars, he was taken with a sudden illness, of which he 
died, and, at the command of Malgo, king of the Venedo- 
tians, was buried in that church. He was succeeded in 
the metropolitan see by Cynoc, bishop of the church of 
Llan-Patern, who was thus promoted to a higher dignity, 

* The mention of Constantine brings Geoffrey's work into connection 
with that of Gildas : the reader may perhaps from this point detect som« 
•light degree of verisimilitude in this otherwise fictitious narrative. 

272 GEOFFREYS BRITISH HISTORY, [book xx. cm. «-*, 

Chap. I V. — Constantine, having murdered the two sons of Modred, u him- 
self killed by Oman. 

But Constantine pursued the Saxons, and reduced them 
under his yoke. He also took the two sons of Modred; 
and one of them, who had fled for sanctuary to the church 
of St. Amphibalus, in Winchester, he murdered before the 
altar. The other had hidden himself in a convent of friars 
at London, but at last was found out by him, brought before 
the altar, and there put to death. Three years after this, he 
himself, by the vengeance of God pursuing him, was killed by 
Conan, and buried close by Uther Pendragon within the 
structure of stones, which was set up with wonderful art not fat 
from Salisbury, and called in the English tongue, Stonehenge. 

Chap. V. — Aurelius Conan reigns after Constantine. 

After him succeeded Aurelius Conan, his nephew, a youth 
of wonderful valour ; who, as he gained the monarchy of 
the whole island, would have been worthy the crown of 
it, had he not delighted in civil war. He raised disturb- 
ances against his uncle, who ought to have reigned after 
Constantine, and cast him into prison ; and then killing his 
two sons, obtained the kingdom, but died in the second year 
of his reign. 

Chap. VI. — Wortiporius, being declared king, conquers the Saxons.' 

After Conan succeeded Wortiporius, against whom the 
Saxons made insurrection, and brought over their countrymen 
from Germany in a very great fleet. But he gave them 
battle and came off with victory, so that he obtained the 
monarchy of the whole kingdom, and governed the people 
carefully and peacefully four years. 

Chap. VII. — Malgo, king of Britain, and a most graceful person, addicts 
himself to sodomy. 

After him succeeded Malgo, one of the handsomest of 
men in Britain, a great scourge of tyrants, and a man of 
great strength, extraordinary munificence, and matchless 
valour, but addicted very much to the detestable vice of 
•odomy, by which he made himself abominable to God. He 

4 aa«77.i Geoffrey's apostrophe to the people. 273 

also possessed the whole island, to which, after a cruel war, 
* he added the six provincial islands, vie. Ireland, Iceland, 

Gothland, the Orkneys, Norway, and Dacia. 

|; Ch ap. VIII. — Britain, in the flaw of a civil tear under king Careticus, is 

I misenbly toasted by the Saxon* and Africans. 

t After Malgo succeeded Careticus, a lover of civil war, and 

j hateful to God and to the Britons. The Saxons, discovering 

e his fickle disposition, went to Ireland for Gormund, king of 

8 the Africans, who had arrived there with a very great 

f fleet, and had subdued that country. From thence, at 

i their traitorous instigation, he sailed over into Britain, 

[ which the perfidious Saxons in one part, in another the 

Britons by their continual wars among themselves were 

wholly laying waste. Entering therefore into alliance 

with the Saxons, he made war upon king Careticus, and 

after several battles fought, drove him from city to city, till 

at length he forced him to Cirecester, and there besieged 

him. Here Isembard, the nephew of Lewis, king of the 

Franks, came and made a league of amity with him, and out 

of respect to him renounced the Christian faith, on condition 

that he would assist him to gain the kingdom of Gaul from 

his uncle, by whom, he said, he was forcibly and unjustly 

expelled out of it. At last, after taking and burning the 

city, he had another fight with Careticus, and made him flee 

beyond the Severn into Wales. He then made an utter 

devastation of the country, set fire to the adjacent cities, 

and continued these outrages until he had almost burned 

up the whole surface of the island from the one sea to 

the other ; so that the tillage was everywhere destroyed, 

and a general destruction made of the husbandmen and 

clergy, with fire and sword. This terrible calamity caused 

the rest to flee whithersoever they had any hopes of 


f Chap. IX.— Th$ author upbraids the Britons. 

I " Why foolish nation ! oppressed with the weight of your 
i abominable wickedness, why did you, in your insatiable 
! thirst after civil wars, so weaken yourself by domestic con- 
| fusions, that whereas formerly you brought distant kingdoms 
under your yoke, now, like a good vineyard degenerated and 

274 Geoffrey's British history. [book ». oh. ict 

turned to bitterness, you cannot defend jour country, your 
wives, and children, against your enemies ? Go on, go on 
in your civil dissensions, little understanding the saying in 
the Gospel, ' Every kingdom divided against itself shall be 
brought to desolation, and a house divided against itself shall 
fall/ Since then your kingdom was divided against itself ; 
since the rage of civil discord, and the fumes of envy, have 
darkened your minds, since your pride would not suffer you 
to pay obedience to one king ; you see, therefore, your coun- 
try made desolate by impious pagans, and your houses falling 
one upon another ; which shall be the cause of lasting sor- 
row to your posterity. For the barbarous lionesses shall see 
their whelps enjoying the towns, cities, and other possessions 
of your children ; from which they shall , be miserably ex- 
pelled, and hardly if ever recover their former flourishing 

Chap. X, — Loegria is again inhabited by the Saxons. The Britons, ivtih 
their bishops, retire into Cornwall and Wales. 

But to return to the history; when the inhuman tyrant, 
with many thousands of his Africans, had made a devastation 
almost over the whole island, he yielded up the greater part 
of it, called Loegria, to the Saxons, whose villainy had been 
the occasion of his arrival. Therefore the remainder of the , 
Britons retired into the western parts of the kingdom, that 
is, Cornwall and Wales ; from whence they continually 
made frequent and fierce irruptions upon the enemy. The 
three archbishops, viz. the archbishop of Legions, Theon of 
London, and Thadiocus of York, when they beheld all the 
churches in their jurisdiction lying level with the ground, 
ded with all the clergy that remained after so great a de- 
struction, to the coverts of the woods in Wales, carrying 
with them the relics of the saints, for fear the sacred bones 
of so many holy men of old might be destroyed by the bar- 
barians, if they should leave them in that imminent danger, 
and themselves instantly suffer martyrdom. Many more 
went over in a great fleet into Armorican Britain ; so that 
the whole church of the two provinces, Loegria and North- 
umberland, had its convents destroyed. But these things I 
shall relate elsewhere, when I translate the book concerning 
their banishment. 


Chap. XI. — The Britons lose their kingdom. 

Foil a long time after this the Britons were dispossessed 
of the crown of the kingdom, and the monarchy of the 
island, and made no endeavours to recover their ancient 
dignity ; but even that part of the country which yet 
remained to them, being subject not to one king, but three 
tyrants, was often wasted by civil wars. But neither did 
the Saxons yet obtain the crown, but were also subject to 
three kings, who harassed sometimes one another, sometimes 
the Britons. 

Chap. XII.— Augustine, being sent by pope Gregory into Britain, 
preaches the gospel to the Angles, 

In the meantime Augustine was sent by pope Saint Gregory 
into Britain, to preach the word of God to the Angles, who, 
being blinded with pagan superstition, had entirely extin- 
guished Christianity in that part of the island which they 
possessed. But among the Britons, the Christian faith still 
flourished, and never failed among them from the time of 
pope Eleutherius, when it was first planted here. But when 
Augustine came, he found in their province seven bishoprics 
and an archbishopric, all filled with most devout prelates, and 
a great number of abbeys ; by which the flock of Christ was 
still kept in good order. Among the rest, there was in the 
city of Bangor a most noble church, in which it is reported 
there was so great a number of monks, that when the 
monastery was divided into seven parts, having each their 
priors over them, not one of them had less than three 
hundred monks, who all lived by the labour of their own 
hands. The name of their abbat was Dinooth, a man 
admirably skilled in the liberal arts ; who, when Augustine 
required the subjection of the British bishops, and would 
have persuaded them to undertake the work of the gospel 
with him among the Angles, answered him with several 
arguments, that they owed no subjection to him, neither 
would they preach to their enemies ; since they had their 
own archbishop, and because the Saxon nation persisted in 
depriving them of their country. For this reason they 
esteemed them their mortal enemies, reckoned their faith 

T 2 

276 Geoffrey's British history. [book x*. cam 

and religion as nothing, and would no more communicate 
with the Angles than with dogs. 

Chap. XIII. — Ethel/rid kills a great number of the British monks, but U 
at last routed by the Britons. 

Therefore Ethelbert, king of Kent, when he saw that the 
Britons disdained subjection to Augustine, and despised his 
preaching, was highly provoked, and stirred up Ethelfrid, 
king of the Northumbrians, and the other petty kings of the 
Saxons, to raise a great army, and march to the city of 
Bangor, to destroy the abbat Dinooth, and the rest of the 
clergy who held them in contempt. At his instigation, 
therefore, they assembled a prodigious army, and in their 
march to the province of the Britons, came to Legecester, 
where Brocmail, consul of the city, was awaiting their 
coming. To the same city were come innumerable monks 
and hermits from several provinces of the Britons, but 
especially from the city of Bangor, to pray for the safety 
of their people. Whereupon Ethelfrid, king of the Nor- 
thumbrians, collecting all his forces, joined battle with 
Brocmail, who, having a less army to withstand him, at 
last quitted the city and fled, though not without having 
made a great slaughter of the enemy. But Ethelfrid, when 
he had taken the city, and understood upon what occasion 
the monks were come thither, commanded his men to turn 
their arms first against them ; and so two hundred of them 
were honoured with the crown of martyrdom, and admitted 
into the kingdom of heaven that same day. From thence 
this Saxon tyrant proceeded on his march to Bangor ; but 
upon the news of his outrageous madness, the leaders of the 
Britons, viz. Blederic, duke of Cornwall, Margaduc, king 
of the Demetians, and Cadwan, of the Venedotians, came 
from all parts to meet him, and joining battle with him, 
wounded him, and forced him to flee ; and killed of his 
army to the number of ten thousand and sixty-six men. On 
the Britons' side fell Blederic, duke of Cornwall, who was 
their comma ider in those wars. 



Chap. I. — Cadwan acquires by treaty all Britain on this side of the Hum* 
ber, and Ethel/rid the rest. 

After this all the princes of the Britons met together at 
the city of Legecester, and consented to make Cadwan their 
king, that under his command they might pursue Ethelfrid 
beyond the Humber. Accordingly, as soon as he was 
crowned, they flocked together from all parts, and passed the 
Humber ; of which when Ethelfrid received intelligence, he 
entered into a confederacy with all the Saxon kings, and 
went to meet Cadwan. At last, as they were forming their 
troops for a battle, their friends came, and made peace 
between them on these terms : that Cadwan should enjoy 
that part of Britain which lies on this side of the Humber, and 
Ethelfrid that which is beyond it. As soon as they had 
confirmed this agreement with an oath made to their 
hostages, there commenced such a friendship between them, 
that they had all things common. In the meantime it 
happened, that Ethelfrid banished his own wife and married 
another, and bore so great a hatred to her that was banished, 
that he would not suffer her to live in the kingdom of 
Northumberland* Whereupon she, being with child, went 
to king Cadwan, that by his mediation she might be restored 
to her husband. But when Ethelfrid could by no means be 
brought to consent to it, she continued to live with Cadwan, 
till she was delivered of the son which she had conceived. 
A short time after her delivery, Cadwan also had a son born 
to him by the queen, his wife. Then were the two boys 
brought up together in a manner suitable to their royal 
birth, one of which was called Cadwalla, the other Edwin. 
When they were nearly arrived at men's estate, their parents 
sent them to Salomon, king of the Armorican Britons, that 
in his court they might learn the discipline of war, and other 
princely qualifications. This prince, therefore, received them 
graciously, and admitted them to an intimacy with him ; so 
that there was none of their age in the whole court, that had 
a free access, or more familiarly discoursed with the king 
than they. At last he himself was an eye-witness of their 

278 Geoffrey's British history. [uookhloli. 

exploits against the enemy, in which they very much signa- 
lized their valour. 

Chap. II. — Cadwalla breaks the covenant he had made with Edwin. 

In process of time, when their parents were dead, they 
returned to Britain, where they took upon them the 
government of the kingdom, and began to form the same 
friendship as their fathers. Two years after this, Edwin 
asked leave of Cadwalla to wear a crown, and to celebrate 
the same solemnities, as had been used of old in Northum- 
berland. And when they had begun a treaty upon this 
subject by the river Duglas, that the matter might be 
adjusted according to the advice of their wise counsellors ; 
it happened that Cadwalla was lying on the other side of the 
river in the lap of a certain nephew of his, whose name was 
Brian. While ambassadors were negotiating between them, 
Brian wept, and shed tears so plentifully, that the king's face 
and beard were wet with them. The king, imagining that 
it rained, lifted up his face, and seeing the young man in 
tears, asked him the occasion of such sudden grief.. " Good 
reason," said he, "have I to weep continually, as well. as the 
whole British nation, which has groaned under the oppression 
of barbarians ever since the time of Malgo, and has not. yet 
got a prince, to restore it to its ancient flourishing state. And 
even the little honour that it had left, is lessened by you* 
indulgence ; since the Saxons, who are only strangers, and 
always traitors to our country, must now be permitted to 
wear the same crown as you do. For when once they shall 
attain to regal dignity, it will be a great addition to their 
glory in the country from whence they came ; and they will 
the sooner invite over their countrymen, for the utter extirp- 
ation of our race. For they have been always accustomed 
to treachery, and never to keep faith with any ; which I 
think should be a reason for our keeping them under, and 
not for exalting them.. When king Vortigern first retained 
them in his service, they made a show of living peaceably, 
and fighting for our country, till they had an opportunity of 
practising their wickedness ; and then they returned evil for 
good, betrayed him, and made a cruel massacre of the people 
of the kingdom. Afterwards they betrayed Aucehus Am 


brosius, to whom, even after the most tremendous oaths 
of fidelity, at a banquet with him they gave a draught 
of poison. They also betrayed Arthur, when, setting aside 
the covenant by which they were bound, they joined with 
his nephew Modred, and fought against him. Lastly, they 
broke faith with king Careticus, and brought upon him 
Gormund, king of the Africans, by whose disturbances our 
people were robbed of their country, and the king disgrace- 
fully driven out. 

Chap. III. — A quarrel between Cadwalla and Edwin, 

At the mention of these things, Cadwalla repented of enter- 
ing into this treaty, and sent word to Edwin that he could 
by no means induce his counsellors to consent to his petition. 
For they alleged that it was contrary to law and the ancient 
establishment, that an island, which has always had no more 
than one crown, should be now under subjection to two 
crowned heads. This message incensed Edwin, and made 
him break off the conference, and retire into Northumber- 
land, saying, he would be crowned without Cadwalla's 
leave. When Cadwalla was told this, he declared to him 
by his ambassadors that he would cut off his crowned head, 
if he presumed to wear a crown within the kingdom of 

Chap. IV. — Cadwalla is vanquished by Edwin, and driven out of the 

This proved the occasion of a war between them, in which, 
after several engagements between their men, they at last 
met together themselves beyond the Humber, and had a 
battle, wherein Cadwalla lost many thousands of his fol- 
lowers, and was put to flight.* From hence he marched 
with precipitation through Albania, and went over to Ireland. 
But Edwin, after this victory, led his army through the pro- 
vinces of the Britons, and burning the cities before him, griev- 
ously afflicted the citizens and country people. During this 
exercise of his cruelty, Cadwalla never ceased endeavouring 
to return back to his country in a fleet, but without success ; 
because to whatever port he steered, Edwin met him with 
his forces, and hindered his landing. For there was come to 
L * See Malmesbiuy's Hist, of the Kings, p. 46. 

280 GEOFFREY'S BRITISH HISTORY. [bck-k xu. ch. 4 

him from Spain a very skilful soothsayer, named Pellitus, 
who, by the flight of birds and the courses of the stars, 
foretold all the disasters that would happen. By these 
means Edwin, getting knowledge of Cadwalla's return, pre- 
pared to meet him, and shattered his ships so that he drowned 
his men, and beat him off from all his ports. Cadwalla, not 
knowing what course to take, was almost in despair of ever 
returning. At last it came into his head to go to Salomon, 
king of the Armorican Britons, and desire his assistance and 
advice, to enable him to return to his kingdom. And so, as 
he was steering towards Armorica, a strong tempest rose on 
a sudden, which dispersed the ships of his companions, and 
in a short time left no two of them together. The pilot of 
the king's ship was seized immediately with so great a fear, 
that quitting the stern, he left the vessel to the disposal of 
fortune ; so that all that night it was tossed up and down in 
great danger by the raging waves. The next morning they 
arrived at a certain island called Garnareia, where with 
great difficulty they got ashore. Cadwalla was forthwith 
seized with such grief for the loss of his companions, that 
for three days and nights together he refused to eat, but lay 
sick upon his bed. The fourth day he was taken with a very 
great longing for some venison, and causing Brian to be 
called, made him acquainted with it. Whereupon Brian 
took his bow and quiver, and went through the island, that 
if he could light on any wild beast, he might make booty of 
it. And when he had walked over the whole island without 
finding what he was in quest of, he was extremely concerned 
that he could not gratify his master's desire ; and was afraid 
his sickness would prove mortal if his longing were not 
satisfied. He, therefore, fell upon a new device, and cut a 
piece of flesh out of his own thigh, which he roasted upon a 
spit, and carried to the king for venison. The king, think- 
ing it to be real venison, began to eat of it to his great re- 
freshment, admiring the sweetness of it, which he fancied 
exceeded any flesh he ever had tasted before. At last, when 
he had fully satisfied his appetite, he became more cheerful, 
and in three days was perfectly well again. Then the wind 
standing fair, he got ready his ship, and hoisting sails 
they pursued their voyage, and arrived at the city Ki- 
daleta. From thence they went to king Salomon, by 


whom they were received kindly and with nil suitable re- 
spect ; and as soon as he had learned the occasion of their 
coming, he made them a promise of assistance, and spoke to 
them as follows. 

' Chap. V. — The speech of Salomon, king of Armorica, to Cadwatta. 

" It is a grief to us, noble youths, that the country of your 
ancestors is oppressed by a barbarous nation, and that you 
are ignominiously driven out of it. But since other men are 
able to defend their kingdoms, it is a wonder your people 
should lose so fruitful an island, and not be able to with- 
stand the nation of the Angles, whom our countrymen hold 
in contempt. While the people of this country lived toge- 
ther with yours in Britain, they bore sway over all the pro- 
vincial kingdoms, and never could be subdued by any nation 
but the Romans. Neither did the Romans do this by their 
own power, as I have been lately informed, but by a dissen- 
sion among the nobility of the island. And even the 
Romans, though they held it under their subjection for a 
time, yet upon the loss and slaughter of their rulers, were 
driven out with disgrace. But after the Britons came into 
this province under the conduct of Maximian and Conan, 
those that remained never had the happiness afterwards of 
holding an uninterrupted possession of the crown. For 
though many of their princes maintained the ancient dignity 
of their ancestors, yet their weak heirs that succeeded, 
though more in number, entirely lost it, upon the invasion 
of their enemies. Therefore I am grieved for the weakness 
of your people, since we are of the same race with you, and 
the name of Britons is common to you, and to the nation that 
bravely defends their country, which you see at war with all 
its neighbours." 

Chap. VI. — Cadwallcts answer to Salomon. 

When he had concluded his speech, Cadwalla, who was a 
little put to the blush, answered him after this manner : 
" Royal sir, whose descent is from a race of kings, I give 
you many thanks for your promise of assisting me to recover 
my kingdom. But what you say is a wonder, that my people 
have not maintained the dignity of their ancestors, since the 

282 Geoffrey's British histoby. [■ 

time that the Britons came to these provinces, I am far from 
thinking to be such. For the noblest men of the whole 
kingdom followed those leaders, and there remained only the 
baser sort to enjoy their honours ; who being raised to a 
high quality, on a sudden were puffed up above their sta- 
tion ; and growing wanton with riches gave themselves up to 
commit such fornication as is not so much as named among the 
.Gentiles ; and (as Gildas the historian testifies) were not only 
guilty of this vice, but of all the enormities that are incident 
to haman nature. And what chiefly prevailed, to the entire 
overthrow of all goodness, was the hatred of truth with its 
assertors, the love of a lie with the inventors of it, the em- 
bracing of evil for good, the veneration of wickedness for 
grace, the receiving of Satan for an angel. of light. Kings 
were anointed, not for the sake of God, but such as were 
more cruel than the rest ; and were soon after murdered by 
their anointers, without examination, having chosen others 
yet more cruel in their room. But if any of them showed 
any mildness, or seemed a favourer of truth, against him, as 
the subverter. of Britain, were all their malice and their 
weapons bent. In short, things pleasing to God or displeas- 
ing, with them had the same weight, even if the worse were 
not the weightier. Therefore were all affairs managed con- 
trary to public safety, as if the true physician of all had left 
them destitute of cure. And thus was every thing done 
without discretion, and that not only by secular men, but by 
the Lord's flock and its pastors. Therefore it is not to be 
wondered, that such a degenerate race, so odious to God for 
their vices, lost a country which they had so heinously cor- 
rupted. For God was willing to execute his vengeance upon 
them, by suffering a foreign people to come upon them, and 
drive them out of their possessions. Notwithstanding it 
would be a worthy act, if God would permit it, to restore 
our subjects to their ancient dignity, to prevent the reproach 
that may be thrown upon our race, that we were weak 
rulers, who did not exert ourselves in our. own defence. 
And I do the more freely ask your assistance, as you are of 
the same blood with us. For the great Malgo, who was the 
fourth king of Britain after Arthur, had two sons, named 
Ennianus and Runo, Ennianus begot Belin ; Belin, Jago ; 
Jago, Cadwan, who was my father. Bono, who, after his 


brother's death, was driven out by the Saxons, came to this 
province and bestowed his daughter on duke Hoel, the son 
of that great Hoel who shared with Arthur in his conquests. 
Of her was born Alan ; of Alan, Hoel your father, who 
while he lived was a terror to all Gaul." 

Chap. "VII. — Brian kills Edwin 7 s magician* 

Itf the meantime, while he was spending the winter with 
Salomon, they entered into a resolution, that Brian should 
pass over into Britain, and take some method to kill Edwin's 
magician, lest he might by his usual art inform him of Cad- 
walla's coming. And when with this design he had arrived 
at Hamo's Port, he took upon him the habit of a poor man, 
and made himself a staff of iron sharp at the end, with 
which he might kill the magician if he should happen tc 
meet with him. From thence he went to York, where Ed- 
win then resided ; and having entered that city joined him- 
self to the poor people that waited for alms before the king's 
gate. But as he was going to and fro, it happened that his 
sister came out of the hall, with a basin in her hand, to 
fetch water for the queen. She had been taken by Edwin 
at the city of Worcester, when after Cadwalla's flight he 
was acting his hostilities upon the provinces of the Britons. 
As she was therefore passing by Brian, he immediately knew 
her, and, breaking forth into tears, called to her with a low 
voice ; at which the damsel turning her face, was in doubt at 
first who it could be, but upon a nearer approach discovered 
it to be her brother, and was near falling into a swoon, for 
fear that he might by some unlucky accident be known and 
taken by the enemy. She therefore refrained from saluting 
him, or entering into familiar discourse with him, but told 
him, as if she was talking upon some other subject, the 
state of the court, and showed him the magician, that he 
was inquiring for, who was at that very time walking among 
the poor people, while the alms were being distributed 
among them. Brian, as Soon as he had taken knowledge of 
the man, ordered his sister to steal out privately from her 
apartment the night following, and come to him near an old 
church without the city, where he would conceal himself ia 
expectation of her. Then dismissing her, he thrust himself 
in among the crowd of poor people, in that part where Pel- 

284 Geoffrey's British history. [book m. cm. a. 

litus was placing them. And the same moment he got 
access to him, he lifted up his staff, and at once gave him a 
stab under the breast which killed him. This done, he threw 
away his staff, and passed among the rest undistinguished 
and unsuspected by any of the by-standers, and by good pro- 
vidence got to the place of concealment which he had ap- 
pointed. His sister, when night came on, endeavoured all 
she could to get out, but was not able ; because Edwin, being 
terrified at the killing of Pellitus, had set a strict watch 
about the court, who, making a narrow search, refused to let 
her go out. When Brian found this, he retired from that 
place, and went to Exeter, where he called together the 
Britons, and told them what he had done. Afterwards hav- 
ing despatched away messengers to Cadwalla, he fortified 
that city, and sent word to all the British nobility, that they 
should bravely defend their cities and towns, and joyfully 
expect Cadwalla's coming to their relief in a short time with 
auxiliary forces from Salomon. Upon the spreading of this 
news over the whole island, Penda, king of the Mercians, 
with a very great army of Saxons, came to Exeter, and be- 
sieged Brian. 

Chap. VIII. — Cadwalla takes Penda, and routs his army. 

In the meantime Cadwalla arrived with ten thousand men, 
whom king Salomon had delivered to him ; and with them 
he marched straight to the siege against king Penda. But, 
as he was going, he divided his forces into four parts, and 
then made no delay to advance and join battle with the 
enemy, wherein Penda was forthwith taken, and his army 
routed. For, finding no other way for his own safety, he 
surrendered himself to Cadwalla, and gave hostages, with a 
promise that he would assist him against the Saxons. Cad- 
walla, after this success against him, summoned together his 
nobility, that had been a long time in a decaying state, and 
marched to Northumberland against Edwin, and made con- 
tinual devastations in that country. When Edwin was in- 
formed of it, he assembled all the petty kings of the Angles, 
and meeting the Britons in a field called Heathfield,* presently 
^ave them battle, but was killed, and almost all the people 

See Bede'a Eccles. Hist. p. 106. 

a.d. 634-W2.] CADWALLA's CONQUESTS. 285 

with him, together with Osfrid, his son, and Godbold, king 
of the Orkneys, who had come to their assistance. 

Chap. IX. — Cadwalla kills Osrio and Aidan in fight* 

Having thus obtained the victory, Cadwalla marched through 
the provinces of the Angles, and committed such outrages 
upon the Saxons, that he neither spared age nor sex ; for his 
resolution being to extirpate the whole race out of Britain, 
all that he found he put to extreme tortures. After this he 
had a battle with Osric, Edwin's successor, and killed him 
together with his two nephews, who ought to have reigned 
after him. He also killed Aidan, king of the Scots, who 
came to their assistance. 

Chap. X. — Oswald routs Penda in fight, but is killed by Cadwalla coming 
in upon him. 

Their deaths made room for Oswald to succeed to the king* 
dom of Northumberland ; but Cadwalla drove him, with the 
rest that had given him disturbance, to the very wall which 
the emperor Severus had formerly built between Britain and 
Scotland. Afterwards he sent Penda, king of the Mercians,, 
and the greatest part of his army, to the same place, to give 
him battle. But Oswald, as he was besieged one night by 
Penda, in the place called Heavenfield, that is, the Heavenly 
Field,* set up there our Lord's cross, and commanded his 
men to speak with a very loud voice these words : " Let us 
all kneel down, and pray the Almighty, living and true 
God, to defend us from the proud army of the king of Britain, 
and his wicked leader Penda. For he knows how justly we 
wage this war for the safety of our people." They all there- 
fore did as he commanded them, and advanced at break of 
day against the enemy, and by their faith gained the victory. 
Cadwalla, upon hearing this news, being inflamed with rage, 
assembled his army, and went in pursuit of the holy king 
Oswald ; and in a battle which he had with him at a place 
called Burne, Penda broke in upon him and killed him. 

Chap. XI Oswy submits to Cadwalla, Penda desires leave of Cadwalla 

to make war against him. 

Oswald, with many thousands of his men, being killed, hii 

brother Oswy succeeded him in the kingdom of Northumber- 

• See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 110. 

286 GEOFFEEYS BBITISH HISTORY. [book six. cb. 12. 

land,* and by making large presents of gold and silver to 
Cadwalla, who was now possessed of the government of all 
Britain, made his peace and submission to him. Upon this 
Alfrid, his brother, and Ethelwald,f his brother's son, began 
an insurrection ; but, not being able to hold out against him, 
they fled to Penda, king of the Mercians, desiring him to 
assemble his army and pass the Humber with them, that he 
might deprive Oswy of his kingdom. But Penda, fearing to 
break the peace, which Cadwalla had settled through the 
kingdom of Britain, deferred beginning any disturbance with- 
out his leave, till he could some way work him up, either to 
make war himself upon Oswy, or allow him the liberty of 
doing it. At a certain Pentecost therefore, when Cadwalla 
was celebrating that festival at London, and for the greater 
solemnity wore the crown of Britain, all the kings of the 
Angles, excepting only Oswy, being present, as also all the 
dukes of the Britons ; Penda went to the king, and inquired 
of him the reason, why Oswy alone was wanting, when all 
the princes of the Saxons were present. Cadwalla answered, 
that his sickness was the cause of it ; to which the other 
replied, that he had sent over to Germany for more Saxons, 
to revenge the death of his brother Oswald upon them both. 
He told him further, that he had broken the peace of the 
kingdom, as being the sole author of the war and dissension 
among them ; since Ethelfrid, king of Northumberland, and 
Ethelwald, his brother's son, had been by him harassed with 
a war, and driven out of their own country. He also desired 
leave, either to kill him, or banish him the kingdom. 

Chap. XII. — Cadwalla is advised to suffer Penda to make an insurrection 
against Oswy. 

This matter caused the king to enter upon much deliberation, 
and hold a private consultation with his intimate friends, 
what course to take. Among the rest that offered their pro- 
posals, Margadud, king of the Dimetians, spoke as follows : 
— " Royal sir, since you have proposed to expel the race of 
the Angles from the coasts of Britain, why do you alter your 
resolution, and suffer them to continue in peace among us ? 
At least you should permit them to fall out among them* 

• Or Bernicia, see Bede, p, 131. t Who reigned oyer the Deiri. J 


selves, and let our country owe its deliverance to iieir own 
civil broils. E[o faith is to be kept with one that is treach- 
erous, andig continually laying snares for him to whom he 
owes fidelity. Such have the Saxons always been to our 
natiafif from the very first time of their coming among us. 
,.<What faith ought we to keep with them ? Let Penda imme- 
diately have leave to go against Oswy, that by this civil dis- 
sension and destruction of one another, our island may get 
rid of them. 

Chap. XIII. — Penda is killed by Oswy. Cadwalla dies. 

By these and other words to the same effect, Cadwalla was 
prevailed upon to grant the permission desired. And Penda, 
having assembled a vast army, went to the Humber, and 
laying waste that country, began a fierce war upon the king. 
Oswy was at last reduced to such extremity, that he was 
forced to promise him innumerable royal ornaments, and 
other presents more than one would believe, if he would 
desist from ruining his country, and return home without 
committing any more hostilities. But when the other could 
by no entreaties be prevailed upon to do it, the king, in hopes 
of divine assistance, though he had a less army, however, 
gave him battle near the River Winwid, and having killed 
Penda and thirty other commanders, gained the victory. 
Penda's son Wulfred, by a grant from Cadwalla, succeeded 
to the kingdom, and joining with Eafa and Eadbert, two 
leaders of the Mercians, rebelled against Oswy ; but at last, 
by Cadwalla's command, made peace with him. At length, 
after forty-eight years were expired, that most noble and 
potent king of the Britons, Cadwalla, being grown infirm with 
age and sickness, departed this life upon the fifteenth before 
the kalends of December. The Britons embalmed his body, 
and placed it with wonderful art in a brazen statue, which 
was cast according to the measure of Jbis stature. This 
statue they set up with complete armour, on an admirable and 
beautiful brazen horse, over the western gate of London, for 
a monument of the above-mentioned victory, and for a terror 
to the Saxons. They also built under it a church in honour 
of St. Martin, in which divine ceremonies are celebrated for 
1dm and the others who departed in the faith. 

288 Geoffrey's British etstory. [bookxu. » h.i». 

Chap. XIV. — Cadwallader .'.curds CaJtcJlc. 

He was succeeded in the kingdom by Cudv-all •»- v.* his son^ 
whom Bede calls the youth Elidwalda. At f.rst h^ main- 
tained the government with peace and honu ■». : but nP*c 
twelve years' enjoyment of the crown, he fell into a tit 01 
sickness, and a civil war broke out among the Britons. lh: 
mother was Penda's sister, by the same father but a diffeici* 
mother, descended from the noble race of the Gewisseans. 
For Cadwalla, after his reconciliation with her brother, mad**, 
her the partner of his bed, and had Cadwallader by her. 

Chap. XV.— 7%e Britons are compelled, by pestilence and famine, to leave 
Britain. Cadwallader'' s lamentation. 

During his sickness, the Britons, (as we said before,) quar- 
relling among themselves, made a wicked destruction of a 
rich country ; and this again was attended with another mis- 
fortune. For this besotted people was punished with a 
grievous and memorable famine ; so that every province was 
destitute of all sustenance, except what could be taken in 
hunting. After the famine followed a terrible pestilence, 
which in a short time destroyed such multitudes of people, 
that the living were not sufficient to bury the dead. Those 
of them that remained, flying their country in whole troops 
together, went to the countries beyond the sea, and while 
they were under sail, they with a mournful howling voice 
sang, " Thou hast given us, God, like sheep appointed for 
meat, and hast scattered us among the heathen." Also Cad- 
wallader himself, in his voyage, with his miserable fleet to 
Armorica, made this addition to the lamentation, " Woe to 
us sinners, for our grievous impieties, wherewith we have 
not ceased to provoke God, while we had space for repent- 
ance. Therefore the revenge of his power lies heavy upon 
us, and drives us out of our native soil, which neither the 
Romans of old, nor the Scots or Picts afterwards, nor jet 
he treacherous Saxons with all their craft, were able to do. 
But in vain have we recovered our country so often from 
them ; since it was not the will of God that we should per- 

* Probably the same as Csedwalla, king of Wessex, noticed by Bede 
and the Saxon Chronicle, although the British and Saxon authorities differ 
<n their genealogical statement*. 


petually hold the government of it. He who is the true Judge, 
when he saw we were by no means to be reclaimed from our 
wickedness, and that no human power could expel our race, 
was willing to chastise our folly himself ; and has turned his 
anger against us, by which we are driven out in crowds 
from our native country. Ketura, therefore, ye Romans ; 
return, Scots and Picte ; return, Ambrons and Saxons : be- 
hold, Britain lies open to you, being by the wrath of God 
made desolate, which you were never able to do. It is not 
your valour that expels us ; but the power of the supreme 
; King, whom we have never ceased to provoke." 

Chap. XVI. — Cadwallader with his people goes to Alan, The Saxons 
seize all Britain, 

With these dolorous complaints he arrived at the Armorican 
coast, and went with his whole company to king Alan, the 
nephew of Salomon by whom he was honourably received. So 
that Britain, being now destitute of its ancient inhabitants, ex- 
cepting a few in Wales that escaped the general mortality, 
became a frightful place even to the Britons themselves for 
eleven years after. Neither was it at the same time more 
favourable to the Saxons, who died in it without intermission. 
Notwithstanding the remainder of them, after this raging 
plague was ceased, according to their old custom sent word 
over to their countrymen, that the island of Britain was now 
freed of its native inhabitants, and lay open to them, if they 
would come over and inhabit it As soon as they had re- 
ceived this information, that odious people, gathering together 
an innumerable multitude of men and women, arrived in 
Northumberland, and inhabited the provinces that lay deso- 
late from Albania to Cornwall. For there was now nobody 
to hinder them, excepting the poor remains of the Britons, 
who continued together in the thickets of the woods in Wales. 
From that time the power of the Britons ceased in the island, 
and the Angles began their reign. 

Chap. XVII. — Cadwallader is by the voice of an angel deterred from 
returning to Britain. 

After some time, when the people had recovered strength, 
Cadwallader, being mindful of his kingdom, which was now 
free from the contagion of the pestilence, desired assistance 

290 Geoffrey's British history. LKtsukOLia 

of Alan towards the* recovery of Lis dominions. Hie king 
granted his request ; but as he was getting ready a fleet, he 
was commanded by the loud voice of an angel to desist from 
his enterprise. For God was not willing that the Britons 
should reign any longer in the island, before the time came of 
which Merlin prophetically foretold Arthur. It. also com- 
manded him to go to Rome to pope Sergius, where, after 
doing penance, he should be enrolled among the saints. It 
told him withal, that the Britons, by the merit of their faith, 
should again recover the island, when the time decreed for 
it was come. But this would not be accomplished before 
they should be possessed of his reliques, and transport them 
from Rome into Britain. At the same time also the reliques 
of the other saints should be found, which had been hidden 
on account of the invasion of pagans ; and then at last would 
they recover their lost kingdom. When the holy prince had 
received the heavenly message, he went straight to king Alan, 
and gave him an account of what had been told him. 

Chap. XVIII. — Cadwallader goes to Rome and diet, 

.Then Alan had recourse to several books, as the prophecies 
of the eagle that prophesied at Shaftesbury, and the verses 
of Sibyl and Merlin ; and made diligent search in them, to 
see* whether the revelation made to Cadwallader agreed with 
those written oracles. And when hi could find nothing 
contradictory to it, he admonished Cadwallader to submit to 
the divine dispensation, and laying aside the thoughts of 
Britain, perform what the angelical voice had commanded 
him. But he urged him to send his son Ivor and his nephew 
Ini over into the island, to govern the remainder of the 
Britons ; lest a nation, descended of so ancient a race, should 
lose their liberty by the incursions of barbarians. Then 
Cadwallader, renouncing worldly cares for the sake of God 
and his everlasting kingdom, went to Rome, and was con- 
firmed by pope Sergius : and being seized with a sudden ill- 
ness, was, upon the twelfth before the kalends of May, in the 
six hundred and eighty-ninth year of our Lord's incarnation 
freed from the corruption of the flesh, and admitted into the 
glories of the heavenly kingdom. 

**». 968.1 Geoffrey's conclusion. 291 

Ch*f. XlXx—Tke two Britons, Ivor and Ini, in vain attack the nation 
of the Angles* AtheUtan the firet king of the ^nglee. 

As soon as Ivor and Ini had got together their ships, they 
with all the forces they could raise, arrived in the island, and 
for forty-nine years together fiercely attacked the nation of 
the Angles, but to little purpose. For the above-mentioned 
mortality and famine, together with the inveterate spirit of 
faction that was among them, had made this proud people so 
much degenerate, that they were not able to gain any advan- 
tage of the enemy. And being now also overrun with bar- 
barism, they were no longer called Britons, but Gualenses, 
Welshmen ; a word derived either from Gualo their leader, 
or Guales their queen, or from their barbarism. But the 
Saxons managed affairs with more prudence, maintained 
peace and concord among themselves, tilled their grounds, 
rebuilt their cities and towns, and so throwing off the domi- 
nion of the Britons, bore sway over all Loegria, under their 
leader Athelstan, who first wore a crown amongst them. 
But the Welshmen, being very much degenerated from the 
nobility of the Britons, never after recovered the monarchy 
of the island ; on the contrary, by quarrels among themselves, 
and wars with the Saxons, their country was a perpetual 
scene of misery and slaughter. 

Chap. XX. — Geoffrey of Monmouth'* conclution. v^ 

But as for the kings that have succeeded among them in 
Wales, since that time, I leave the history of them to Cara- 
doc of Lancarvan, my contemporary ; as I do also the kings 
of the Saxons to William of Malmesbury, and Henry of 
Huntingdon. But I advise them to be silent concerning the 
kings of the Britons,* since they have not that book written 

* This advice might be thought judicious, if we could be persuaded of 
the authenticity of Geoffrey's cherished discovery, but there are lamentable 
defects, of a grave character, attending upon this British volume. 

1. It was first made known six hundred years after the events which it 

2. No MS. copy is now in existence, nor any record of its ever having 
been multiplied by transcription. 

S. It relates stories utterly at variance with acknowledged history. 
4. It abounds in miraculous stories, which, like leaven, ferment and coi> 
nqrt tne whole mass* 


292 GEOFFEEl's BBIT1SH HISTOBY. [book xhl ch. 20, 

in the British tongue, which Walter, archdeacon of Oxford, 
brought out of Brittany, and which being a true history, 
published in honour of those princes, I have thus taken care 
to translate. 

5. It labours under great suspicion from the mendacious character of 
the people, whose credit it was written to support. 

With these remarks we leave the work to the consideration of the reader, 
who may compare it, if he likes, with the Chronicles of Gildas and Nan* 
tarn, which form the next portions of this Tolume. 













§ 1. Whatever in this my epistle I may write in my 
humble but well-meaning manner, rather by way of lament- 
ation than for display, let no one suppose that it springs 
from contempt of others, or that I foolishly esteem myself 
as better than they ; — for, alas ! the subject of my complaint 
is the general destruction of every thing that is good, and 
the general growth of_evil throughout the land ; — but that I 
would condote"with my country in her distress and rejoice to 
see her revive therefrom: for it is my present purpose to 
relate the deeds of an indolent and slothful race, rather than 
the exploits of those who have been valiant in the field.* I 
have kept silence, I confess, with much mental anguish, 
compunction of feeling and contrition of heart, whilst I 
revolved all these things within myself; and, as God the 
searcher of the reins is witness, for the space of even ten 
years or more, [ j" my inexperience, as at present also, and 
my unworthiness preventing me from taking upon myself 
the character of a censor. But I read how the illustrious 

• Notwithstanding this remark of Gildas, the Britons must hare shown 
great bravery and resolution in their battles against the Saxons, or they 
would not have resisted their encroachments so long. When Gildas wa* • 
writing, a hundred years had elapsed, and the Britons still possessed a large 
portion of their native country. 

f All that follows, enclosed within brackets, up to page 298, is omitted 
m some copies, 


lawgiver, for one word's doubting, was not allowed to enter 
the desired land ; that the sons of the high-priest, for placing 
strange fire upon God's altar, were cut off by a speedy death; 
that God's people, for breaking the law of God, save two 
only, were slain by wild beasts, by fire and sword in the 
deserts of Arabia, though God had so loved them that he 
had made a way for them through the Red Sea, had fed 
them with bread from heaven, and water from the rock, and 
by the lifting up of a hand merely had made their armies 
invincible ; and then, when they had crossed the Jordan 
and entered the unknown land, and the walls of the city 
had fallen down fiat at the sound only of a trumpet, the 
taking of a cloak and a little gold from the accursed things 
caused the deaths of many : and again the breach of their 
treaty with the Gibeonites, though that treaty had been 
obtained by fraud, brought destruction upon many ; and I 
took warning from the sins of the people which called down 
upon them the reprehensions of the prophets and also of 
Jeremiah, with his fourfold Lamentations written in alpha- 
betid order. I saw moreover in my own time, as that prophet 
also had complained, that the city had sat down lone and 
widowed, which before was full of people ; that the queen 
of nations and the princess of provinces (t. e. the church), 
had been made tributary ; that the gold was obscured, and 
the most excellent colour (which is the brightness of God's _ 
word) changed ; that the sons of Sion (•". e. of holy mother 
church), once famous and clothed in the finest gold, grovelled 
in dung ; and what added intolerably to the weight of grief 
of that illustrious man, and to mine, though but an abject, 
whilst he had thus mourned them in their happy and 
prosperous condition, "Her Nazarites were fairer than 
snow, more ruddy than old ivory, more beautiful than the 
sapphire." These and many other passages in the ancient 
Scriptures I regarded as a kind of mirror of human life, and 
I turned also to the New, wherein I read more dearly what 
perhaps to me before was dark, for the darknes% p £ed, and 
truth shed her steady light — I read therein that the Lord 
had said, "I came not but to the lost sheep of the house 
of Israel ; " and on the other hand, " But the children of this 
kingdom shall be east out into outer darkness ; there shall 
be weeping and gnashing of teeth : " and again, " It is not 

nal.] THE FHXFACB 297 

good to take the children's meat and to ghe it to dogs :" 
also, " Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! " I 
heard how "many shall come from the east and the west, 
and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the 
kingdom of heaven : " and on the contrary, " I will then say 
to them, * Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity ! ' " I 
read, " Blessed are the barren, and the teats which have not 
given suck ; " and on the contrary, " Those, who were ready, 
entered with him to the wedding ; afterwards came the other 
virgins also, saying ' Lord, Lord, open to us : * to whom it 
was answered, 'I do not know you.'" I heard, forsooth, 
"Whoever shall believe and be baptized, shall be saved, 
but whoever shall not believe shall be damned." I read 
in the words of the apostle that the branch of the wild 
olive was grafted upon the good olive, but should never- 
theless be cut off from the communion of the root of its 
fatness, if it did not hold itself ,in fear, but entertained 
lofty thoughts, fl knew the mercy of the Lord, but I also \^ 
feared his judgment :KI praised his grace, but I feared the 
rendering to every man according to his works ; perceiving 
the sheep of the same fold to be different, I deservedly com- 
mended Peter for his entire confession of Christ, but called 
Judas most wretched, for his love of covetousness : I thought 
Stephen most glorious on account of the palm of martyrdom, 
but Nicholas wretched for his mark of unclean heresy: I 
read assuredly, "They had all things common :" but likewise 
also, as it is written, " Why have ye conspired to tempt the 
Spirit of God?" I saw, on the other hand, how much) 
security had grown upon the men of our time, as if therej 
were nothing to cause them fear. These things, therefore, 
and many more which for brevity's sake we have determined 
to omit, I revolved *gain and again in my amazed mind with 
compunction in my heart, and I thought to myself, " If God's 
peculiar pec- <le, chosen from all the people of the world, the 
royal seer 1 nd holy nation, to whom he had said, ' My first- 
begotten . i*aeV its priests, prophets, and kings, throughout 
so many ages, his servant and apostle, and the members of 
his primitive church, were not spared when they deviated 
from the right path, what will he do to the darkness of this 
our age, in which, besides all the huge and heinous sins, 
which it has in common with all the wicked of the world 


committed, is found an innate, indelible, and irremediable 
load of folly and inconstancy ? " " What, wretched man (I 
say to myself) is it given to you, as if you were an illustrious 
and learned teacher, to oppose the force of so violent a 
torrent, and keep the charge committed to you against such 
a series of inveterate crimes which has spread far and wide, 
without interruption, for so many years ? Hold thy peace : 
to do otherwise, is to tell the foot to see, and the "hand to 
speak. Britain has rulers, and she has watchmen : why dost 
thou incline thyself thus uselessly to prate ? n She has such, 
I say, not too many, perhaps, but surely not too few : but, 
because they are bent down and pressed beneath so heavy a 
burden, they have not time allowed them to take breath. 
My senses, therefore, as if feeling a portion of my debt and 
obligation, preoccupied themselves with such objections, and 
with others yet more strong. They struggled, as I said, no 
short time, in a fearful strait, whilst I read, " There is a time 
for speaking, and a time for keeping silence." At length, 
the creditor's side prevailed and bore off the victory : if 
(said he) thou art not bold enough to be marked with the 
comely mark of golden liberty among the prophetic creatures, 
who enjoy the rank as reasoning beings next to the angels, 
refuse not the inspiration of the understanding ass, to that 
day dumb, which would not carry forward the tiara'd magi- 
cian who was going to curse God's people, but in the narrow 
pass of the vineyard crushed his loosened foot, and thereby 
felt the lash ; and though he was, with his ungrateful and 
furious hand, against right justice, beating her innocent 
sides, she pointed out to him the heavenly messenger holding 
the naked sword, and standing in his way, though he had not 
seen him.] 

Wherefore in zeal for the house of God and for his holy 
law, constrained either by the reasonings of my own thoughts, 
or by the pious entreaties of my brethren, I now discharge 
the debt so long exacted of me ; humble, indeed, in style, 
but faithful, as I think, and friendly to all Christ's youthful 
soldiers, but severe and insupportable to foolish apostates ; 
the former of whom* if I am not deceived, will receive the 
same with tears flowing from God's love ; but the others with 
sorrow, such as is extorted from the indignation and pusil* 
lanimity of a convicted conscience. 


§ 2. I will, therefore, if God be willing, endeavour to gay , 
a few words »^",it, +hfi ffitflfliftn nf ^r+irinj her disobedience 
and subjection, her rebellion, second subjection and dreadful 
slavery — of her religion, persecution, holy martyrs, heresfe* 
of different kinds— of her tyrants, frey two hostile and 
ravaging nations— of her first devastation, her defence, her 
second devastation and second taking vengeance — of her 
third devastation* of her famine, and the letters to Agitius* 
— of her victory and her crimes — of the sudden rumour of 
enemies — of her famous pestilence— of her counsels— of her 
last enemy, far more cruel than the first — of the subversion • 
of her cities, and of the remnant that escaped ; and finally, 
of the peace which, by the will of God, has been granted her 
in these our times. 


§ 3. The island of Britain, situated on almost the utmost 
border of the earth, towards the south and west, and poised 
in the divine balance, as it is said, which supports the whole 
world, stretches out from the south-west towards the north 
pole, and is eight hundred miles long and two hundred 
broad,* except where the headlands of sundry promontories 
stretch farther into the sea. It is surrounded by the ocean, 
which forms winding bays, and is strongly defended by 
this ample, and, if I may so call it, impassable barrier, save 
on the south side, where the narrow sea affords a passage to 
Belgic Gaul. It is enriched by the mouths of two noble 
rivers, the Thames and the Severn, as it were two arms, by 
which foreign luxuries were of old imported, and by other 
streams of less importance. It is famous forjdght and 
twenty cities, and is embellished by certain castles, with 
walls, towers, well barred gates, and houses with threatening 
battlements built on high, and provided with all requisite 

* Or uEtius, see page 307. 

+ The description of Britain is given in very nearly the same terms; by 
Orosius, Bede, and others, but the numbers, denoting the length and 
breadth and other dimensions, are different in almost every MS. copy* 

800 THE WORKS OF G1LDAS. Inc. 4 

instruments of defence. Its plains are spacious, its hills are 
pleasantly situated, adapted for superior tillage, and its 
mountains are admirably calculated for the alternate pastur- 
age of cattle, where flowers of various colours, trodden by 
the feet of man, give it the appearance of a lovely picture. 
It is decked, like a man's chosen bride, with divers jewels, 
with lucid fountains and abundant brooks wandering over 
the snow white sands ; with transparent rivers, flowing in 
gentle murmurs, and offering a sweet pledge of slumber* to 
those who recline upon their banks, whilst it is irrigated 
by abundant lakes, which pour forth cool torrents of refresh- 
ing water. 

' § 4. This island, stiff-necked and stubborn-minded, from 
the time of its being first inhabited, ungratefully rebels, 
sometimes against God, sometimes against her own citizens, 
and frequently, also, against foreign kings and their subjects. 
For what can there either be, or be committed, more dis- 
graceful or more unrighteous in human affairs, than to refuse 
to show fear to God or affection to one's own countrymen, and 
(without detriment to one's faith) to refuse due honour to 
those of higher dignity, to cast off all regard to reason, 
human and divine, and, in contempt of heaven and earth, to 
be guided by one's own sensual inventions ? I shall, there- 
fore, omit those ancient errors common to all the nations of 
the earth, in which, before Christ came in the flesh, all man- 
kind were bound ; nor shall I enumerate those diabolical 
idols of my country, which almost surpassed in number 
those of Egypt, and of which we still see some mouldering 
away within or without the deserted temples, with stiff and 
deformed features as was customary. Nor will I call out upon 
the mountains, fountains, or hills, or upon the rivers, which 
now are subservient to the use of men, but once wore an 
abomination and destruction to them, and to which the blind 
people paid divine honour. I shall also pass over the by- 
gone times of our cruel tyrants, whose notoriety was spread 
over to far distant countries ; so that Porphyry, that dog who 
in the east was always so fierce against the church, in his mad 
and vain style added this also, that " Britain is a land fertile 

• " Soporem" in some MSS., " saporem " in others ; it is difficult from 
the turgidity and superabundance of the style to determine which if the 
bat meaning. 


in tyrants."* I will only endeavour to relate the evils 
which Britain suffered in the times of the Roman emperors, 
and also those which she caused to distant states ; but so far 
as lies in my power, I shall not follow the writings and 
records of my own country, which (if there ever were any 
of them) have been consumed in the fires of the enemy, or 
have accompanied my exiled countrymen into distant lands, 
but be guided by the relations of foreign writers, which, 
being broken and interrupted in many places, are therefore 
by no means clear. 

§ 5. For when the rulers of Borne had obtained the 
empire of the world, subdued all the neighbouring nations ^ 
and islands towards the east, and strengthened their renown 
by the first peace which they made with the Farthians, who 
border on India, there was a general cessation from war 
throughout the whole world; the fierce flame which they 
kindled could not be extinguished or checked by the Western 
Ocean, but passing beyond the sea, imposed submission upon 
our island without resistance, and entirely reduced to obedi- 
ence its unwarlike but faithless people, not so much by fire 
and sword and warlike engines, like other nations, faft threats 
alone, and menaces of judgments frowning on their counte- 
nance, whilst terror penetrated to their hearts. 

§ 6. When afterwards they returned to Borne, for want 
of pay, as is said, and had no suspicion of an approaching 
rebellion, that deceitful lioness (Boadicea) jmt to, death the 
r ulers who had been left^ among Them, to. unfold more fully 
and to confirm the enterprises of the Bomans. When 
the report of these things reached the senate, and they 
with a speedy army made haste to take vengeance on the 
crafty foxes, f as they called them, there was no bold navy 
on the sea to fight bravely for the country ; by land there 
was no marshalled army, no right wing of battle, nor other 
preparation for resistance ; but their backs were their shields 
against their vanquishers, and they presented their necks to 

• Gildas here confuses the modern idea of a tyrant with that of an 
usurper. The latter is the sense in which Britain was said to be fertile in 
tyrants, viz. in usurpers of the imperial dignity. 

f The Britons who fought under Boadicea were anything but "crafty 
foxes." <* Bold lions " is a much more appropriate appellation ; they 
would also nave been victorious if they had had half the military advantagei 
of the Romans. 

302 THE WORKS OF GILD AS. Luc 7-fe 

their swords, whilst chill terror ran through every limb, 
and they stretched out their hands to be bound, like women ; 
bo that it has become a proverb far and wide, that the 
Britons are neither brave in war nor faithful in time of 

§ 7. The Romans, therefore, having slain many of the 
rebels, and reserved others for slaves, that the land might 
not be entirely reduced to desolation, left the island, destitute 
as it was of wine and oil, and returned to Italy, leaving behind 
them taskmasters, to scourge the shoulders of the natives, to 
reduce their necks to the yoke, and their soil to the vassalage 
of a Roman province ; to chastise the crafty race, not with 
warlike weapons, but with rods, and if necessary to gird 
upon their sides the naked sword, so that it was no longer 
thought to be Britain, b ut a .Roman -island ; and alT their 
money, whether of copper, gold, or silver, was stamped with 
Cassar's image. 

§ 8. Meanwhile these islands, stiff with cold and frost, 
and in a distant region of the world, remote from the visible 
sun, received the beams of light, that is, the holy precepts 
of Christ, the true Sun, showing to the whole world his 
splendour, not only from the temporal firmament, but from 
the height of heaven, which surpasses every thing temporal, 
at the latter part, as we know, of the reign _ of Tiberi us 
Caesar, by whom his religion was propagated without im- 
pediment, and death threatened to those who interfered with 
its professors. 

§ 9. These rays of light were received with lukewarm 
minds by the inhabitants, but they nevertheless took root 
among some of them in a greater or less degree, until the 
nine years' persecution of the tyrant Diocletian, when the 
churches throughout the whole world were overthrown, all 
the copies of the Holy Scriptures which could be found 
burned in the streets, and the chosen pastors of God's flock 
butchered, together with their innocent sheep, in order that 
not a vestige, if possible, might remain in some provinces of 
Christ's religion. What disgraceful flights then took place 
— what slaughter and death inflicted by way of punishment 
in divers shapes, — what dreadful apostacies from religion; 
and on the contrary, what glorious crowns of martyrdom 
then were won,— -what raving Airy was displayed by the 

bbc. 10,110 MARTYRDOM OF ST. ALBAH 303 

persecutors, and patience on the part of the suffering saints, 
ecclesiastical history informs us ; for the whole church were 
crowding in a body, to leave behind them the dark things 
of this world, and to make the best of their way to the 
happy mansions of heaven, as if to their proper home. 

§ 10. God, therefore, who wishes all men to be saved, and 
who calls sinners no less than those who think themselves 
righteous, magnified his mercy towards us, and, as we know, 
during the above-named persecution, that Britain might not 
totally be enveloped in the dark shades of night, he, of his ) 
own free gift, kindled up among us bright luminaries of holy v il Hv 
marty rs, whose places of burial and of martyrdom, had theyf^K 
not tor our manifold crimes been interfered with and de- p^ < 
stroyed by the barbarians, would have still kindled in the 
minds of the beholders no small fire of divine charity. Such 
were St. Alban of Verulam, Aaron and Julius, citizens of 
Carlisle,* and the rest, of both sexes, who in different places 
stood their ground in the Christian contest. 

§ 11. The first of these martyrs, S t. Alban , for charity's 
sake saved another confessor who was pursue3 by his perse- 
cutors! and was on the point of being seized, by hiding him 
in his house, and then by changing clothes with him, imita- 
ting in this the example of Christ, who laid down his life 
for his sheep, and exposing himself in the other's clothes to 
be pursued in his stead. So pleasing to God was this oun~ 
duct, that between his confession and martyrdom, he wag 
honoured with the performance of wonderful miracles in 
presence of the impious blasphemers who were carrying the 
Roman standards, and like the Israelites of old, who troil 
dry-foot an unfrequented path whilst the ark of the cove- 
nant stood some time on the sands in the midst of Jordan ; 
so also the martyr, with a thousand others, opened a path 
across the noble river Thames, whose waters stood abrupt 
like" pfecipfces on "either side; and seeing this, the first of 
his executors was stricken with awe, and from a wolf became 
a lamb ; so that he thirsted for martyrdom, and boldly un- 
derwent that for which he thirsted. The other holy martyrs 
were tormented with divers sufferings, and their limbs were 
racked in such unheard of ways, that they, without delay, 
erected the trophies of their glorious martyrdom even in the 
• Or Caerleon. See Bede*i Ecclee. Hiit p. 15, note. 


gates of the city of Jerusalem. For those who survived^ 
hid themselves in woods and deserts, and secret caves, 
waiting until God, who is the righteous judge of all, should 
reward their persecutors with judgment, and themselves with 
protection of their lives. 

§ 12. In less than ten years, therefore, of the above- 
named persecution, and when these bloody decrees began to 
foil in consequence of the death of their authors, all Christ's 
young disciples, after so long and wintry a night, begin to 
behold the genial light of heaven. They rebuild th e 
churches, which had been levelled to the ground ; they 
found, erect, and finish churches to the holy martyrs, and 
everywhere show their ensigns as token of their victory ; 
festivals are celebrated and sacraments received with clean 
hearts and lips, and all the church's sons rejoice as it were 
in the fostering bosom of a mother. For this holy union 
remained between Christ their head and the members of his 
church, until the Arian treason, fatal as a serpent, and vomiting 
its poison from beyond the sea, caused deadly dissension be- 
tween brothers inhabiting the same house, and thus, as if a road 
were made across the sea, like wild beasts of all descriptions, 
and darting the poison of every heresy from their jaws, they 
inflicted dreadful wounds upon their country, which is ever 
' desirous to hear something new, and remains constant long 
to nothing. 

§ 13. At length also, new races of tyrants sprang up, in 
terrific numbers, and the island, still bearing its Roman 
name, but casting off her institutes and laws, sent forth 
r among the Gauls that bitter scion of her own planting 
j^JOTaximns, with a great number of followers, and the ensigns 
of royalty, which he bore without decency and without law- 
ful right, but in a tyrannical manner, and amid the disturb- 
ances of the seditious soldiery. He, by cunning arts rather 
than by valour, attaching to his rule, by perjury and false- 
hood, all the neighbouring towns and provinces, against the 
Roman state, extended one of his wings to Spain, the other 
to Italy, fixed the seat of his unholy government at Treves, 
and so furiously pushed his rebellion against his lawful 
emperors that he drove one of them out of Rome, and caused 
the other to terminate his most holy life. Trusting to these 
successful attempts, he not long after lost his accursed head 


before the walls of Aquileia, whereas he had before cut off 
the crowned heads of almost all the world. 

§ 14. After this, Britain in laft deprived of all her soldiery 
and armed bands, of her cruel £overji0js,~and of the flower 
of herjrpjith, who went with Maximus, but never again re-. 
turaecTTand utterly ignorant as she was of the art of war,\ 
groaned in amazement for many years under the cruelty of * 
two foreign nations — the Scots from the north-west, and the 
Picts from the north. 

§"15. The Britons, impatient at the assaults of the Scots 
and Picts, their hostilities and dreadful oppressions, send am- 
bassadors to Rome with letters, entreating in piteous terms 
the assistance of an armed band to protect them, and offering 
loyal and ready submission to the authority of fiojne, if they 
only would e*pel their invading foes. A legion is imme- 
diately sent, forgetting their past rebellion, and provided 
sufficiently with arms. When they had crossed over the sea 
and landed, they came at once to close conflict with their 
cruel enemies, and sle w grea t numbers of them. All of 
them were driven beyonathe borders, and the humiliated 
natives rescued from the bloody slavery which awaited them. 
By the advice of their protectors, they now built « wall • 
across the island from one sea to the other, which being 
manned with a proper force, might be a terror to the foes 
whom it was intended to repel, and a protection to their 
friends whom it covered. But this wall, being made of_turf 
instead of stone, was of no use to that foolish people, who 
had no head to guide them. 

§ 16. The Roman legion had no sooner returned home in 
ioy and triumph, than their former^foes, like hungry and 
ravening wolves, rushing with greedy jaws upon the fold 
which is left without a shepherd, and wafted both by the 
strength of oarsmen and the blowing wind, break through 
the boundaries, and spread slaughter on every side, and like 
mowers cutting down the ripe corn, they cut up, tread under 
foot, and overrun the whole country. 

§ 17. And now again they send suppliant ambassadors, 
with their garments rent and their heads covered with ashes, 
imploring assistance from the Romans, and like timorous 
chickens, crowding under the protecting wings of their 
parents, that their wretched country might not altogether be 


destroyed, and that the Roman name, which now was but 
an empty sound to fill the ear, might not become a reproach 
even to distant nations. Upon this, the Romans, moved 
with compassion, as far as human nature can be, at the 
relations of such horrors, send forward, like eagles in their 
flight, their unexpected bands of cavalry by land and mari- 
ners by sea, and planting their terrible swords upon the 
shoulders of their enemies, they mow them down like leaves 
which fall at the destined period ; and as a mountain-torrent 
swelled with numerous streams, and bursting its banks with 
roaring noise, with foaming crest and yeasty wave rising to 
the stars, by whose eddying currents our eyes are as it were 
dazzled, does with one of its billows overwhelm every obstacle 
in its way, so did our illustrious defenders vigorously drive 
our enemies' band beyond the sea, if any could so escape them ; 
for it was beyond those same seas that they transported, year 
after year, the plunder which they had gained, no one daring 
to resist them* 

§ 18. The Romans, therefore, left the country, giving 
notice that they could no longer be harassed by such 
laborious expeditions, nor suffer the Roman standards, with 
so large and brave an army, to be worn out by sea and land 
by fighting against these unwarlike, plundering vagabonds ; 
but that the islanders, inuring themselves to warlike weapons, 
and bravely fighting, should valiantly protect their country, 
their property, wives and children, and, what is dearer than 
these, their liberty and lives; that they should not suffer 
their hands to be tied behind their backs by a nation which, 
unless they were enervated by idleness and sloth, was not 
more powerful than themselves, but that they should arm 
those hands with buckler, sword, and spear, ready for the 
field of battle ; and, because they thought this also of 
advantage to the people they were about to leave, they, 
with the help of the miserable natives, built a wall different, 
from the former, by public and private contributions, and 
of the same structure as walls generally, extending in a 
straight line from sea to sea, between some cities, which, 
from fear of their enemies, had there by chance been built. 
They then give energetic counsel to the timorous natives, 
and leave them patterns by which to manufacture arms. 
Moreover, on the south coast where their vessels lay, as 


there wa» some apprehension lest the barbarians might 
land, they erected towers at Istated intervals, commanding 
a prospect of the sea; and then left the island never to 

~§ 19. No sooner were they gone, than the Picts and Scots, 
like worms which in the heat of mid-day come forth from 
their holes, hastily land again from their canoes, in which 
they had been carried beyond the Cichican * valley, differing 
one from another in manners, but inspired with the same 
avidity for blood, and all more eager to shroud their villainous 
faces in bushy hair thanjp jc over with decent clothing those 
parts of their body which required it. Moreover, having 
heard of the departure of our friends, and their resolution 
never to return, they seized with greater boldness than before 
on all the country towards the extreme north as far as the 
wall. To oppose them there was placed on the heights a 
garrison equally slow to fight and ill adapted to run away, a 
useless and panic-struck company, who slumbered away 
days and nights on their unprofitable watch. Meanwhile 
the hooked weapons of their enemies were not idle, and our 
wretched countrymen were dragged from the wall and dashed 
against the ground. Such premature death, however, painful 
as it was, saved them from seeing the miserable sufferings of 
their brothers and children. But why should I say more ? 
They left their cities, abandoned the protection of the walL 
and dispersed themselves in flight more desperately thai; 
before. Th&_enemy, on the other hand, pursued them with 
more unrelenting cruelty than before, and butchered our 
countryme n, like _. sheep, so that their habitations were like 
those of^savage beasts; for they turned their arms upon 
each other, and for the sake of a little sustenance, imbrued 
their hands in the blood of their fellow countrymen. Thus 
for§iga^ <aalainitic g were augmented by domestic feuds ; so 
tEat the whole country was entirely destitute of provisions, 
save such as could be procured in the chase. 

§ 20. Again, therefore, the wretched remnant, sending to 
^Etius, a powerful Roman citizen, address him as follows: — % 
" To JEtius,t now consul for the third time : the groans of 

* The meaning of this expression is not known. O'Connor thinks it if 
Hfke Irish Sea. 

f Of Agitius, according to another reading. 
X 2 


the Britons." And again a little further, thus: — "The 
barbarians drive us to the sea; the sea throws us back 
on the barbarians : thus two modes of death await us, we 
are either slain or drowned." Th o Romanes , however, couli^ 
not assist them, and in the meantime the discomfited people, 
wana r eringln*the woods, began to feel the effects of a severe 
famine, which compelled many of them without delay to 
yield themselves up to their cruel persecutors, to obtain 
subsistence: others of them, however, lying hid in moun- 
tains, caves, and woods, continually sallied out from thence 
to renew the war. And then it was, for the first time, that 
they overthrew their enemies, who had for so many years 
been living in their country ; for their trust was not in man, 
but in God ; according to the maxim of Philo, " We must 
have divine assistance, when that of man fails." The bold- 
ness of the enemy was for a while checked, but not the 
wickedness of our countrymen : the enemy left our people, 
but the people did not leave their sins. 
» § 21. For it has always been a custom with our nation, as 
at is at present, to be impotent in repelling foreign foes, but 
bold and invincible in raising civil war, and bearing the 
burdens of their offences* they are impotent, I say, in 
following the standard of peace and truth, but bold in 
wickedness and falsehood. The audacious invaders there- 
fore return to their winter quarters, determined before long 
again to return and plunder. And then, too, the Picts for 
the first time seated themselves at the extremity of the island, 
where they afterwards continued, occasionally plundering and 
wasting the country. During these truces, the wounds of 
the distressed people are healed, but another sore, still more 
venomous, broke out. No sooner were the ravages of the 
enemy checked, than the island was deluged with- a most 
extraordinary plenty of all 'things, greater than was before 
known, and with it grew up every kind of luxury and 
licentiousness. It grew with so firm a root, that one might 
truly say of it, " Such fornication is heard of among you, as 
never was known the like among the Gentiles." But besides 
this vice, there arose also every other, to which human nature 
is liable, and in particular that hatred of truth, together with 
her supporters, which still at present destroys every thing 
good in the island ; the love of falsehood, together with its 

sec. tt] VICES OF THE BRITONS. 309 

inventors, the reception of crime in the place of virtue, the 
respect shown to wickedness rather than goodness, the love 
of darkness instead of the sun, the admission of Satan as an 
angel of light. Kings were anointed, not according to God's 
ordinance, but such as showed themselves more cruel than 
the rest ; and soon after, they were put to death by those 
who had elected them, without any inquiry into their merits, 
but because others still more cruel were chosen to succeed 
them. If any one of these was of a milder nature than the 
rest, or in any way more regardful of the truth, he was 
looked upon as the ruiner of the country, every body cast a 
dart at him, and they valued things alike whether pleasing 
or displeasing to God, unless it so happened that what dis- 
pleased him was pleasing to themselves. So that the words 
of the prophet, addressed to the people of old, might well be 
applied to our own countrymen : " Children without a law, 
have ye left God and provoked to anger the holy one of 
Israel ? * Why will ye still inquire, adding iniquity ? 
Every head is languid and every heart is sad; from the 
sole of the foot to the crown, there is no health in him." 
' And thus they did all things contrary to their salvation, as 
if no remedy could be applied to the world by the true 
Physician of all men. And not only the laity did so, but 
our Lord's own flock and its shepherds, who ought to have 
been an example to the people, slumbered away their time in 
drunkenness, as if they had been dipped in wine ; whilst the 
swellings of pride, the jar of strife, the griping talons of envy, 
and the confused estimate of right and wrong, got such entire 
possession of them, that there seemed to be poured out (and 
the same still continueth) contempt upon princes, and to 
be made by their vanities to wander astray and not in the 

§ 22. Meanwhile, God being willing to purify his family 
who were infected by so deep a stain of woe, and at the 
hearing only of their calamities to amend them; a vague 
rumour suddenly as if on wings reaches the ears of aft, that 
their inveterate foes were rapidly approaching to destroy the 

* Iaa. i. 4, 5. In most of these quotations there is great Terbal \ 
from the authorised version : the author probably quoted from meslofj, tf 
not from the Latin version. 

810 THE WORKS OF GILD&S. [mc. tt. 

whole country, and to take possession of it, as of old, from 
one end to the other. But yet they derived no advantage 
from this intelligence ; for, like frantic beasts, taking the bit 
of reason between their teeth, they abandoned the safe and 
narrow road, and rushed forward upon the broad downward 
path of vice, which leads to death. Whilst, therefore, as 
Solomon says, the stubborn servant is not cured by words, 
the fool is scourged and feels it not : a pestilejotiaL_disea££ 
mortally affected the foolish people, which, without the 
sword, cut off so large a number of persons, that the living 
were not able to bury them. But even this was no warning 
to them, that in them also might be fulfilled the words of 
Isaiah the prophet, "And God hath called his people to 
lamentation, to baldness, and to the girdle of sackcloth; 
behold they begin to kill calves, and to slay rams, to eat, to- . 
drink, and to say, ' We will eat and drink, for to-morrow we 
shall die.' * For the time was approaching, when all their 
iniquities, as formerly those of the Amorrhaeans, should be 
fulfilled. For a council was called to settle what was best 
and most expedient to be done, in order to repel such 
frequent and fatal irruptions and plunderings of the above- 
named nations. 

§ 23. Then all the councillors, together with that proud tyrant 
Gurthrigern [Vortigern], the British king, were so blinded, 
that, as a protection to their country, they sealed its doom by 
inviting in among them (like wolves into the sheep-fold), the 
fierce and impious Saxons, a race hateful both to God and' 
men, to repel the invasions of the northern nations. No- 
thing was ever so pernicious to our country, nothing was 
ever so unlucky. What palpable darkness must have enve- 
loped their minds — darkness desperate and cruel! Those 
very people whom, when absent, they dreaded more than 
death itself, were invited to reside, as one may say, under 
the selfsame roof. Foolish are the princes, as it is said, of 
Thafneos, giving counsel to unwise Pharaoh. A multitude 
of whelps came forth from the lair of this barbaric lioness, 
in three cyuls, as they call them, that is, in three ships of 
war, withrtltelr sails wafted by the wind and with omens and 
prophecies favourable, for it was foretold by a certain sooth- 
sayer among them, that they should cccupy the country to 
which they weie sailing three hundred years, and half of 




that time, a hundred and fifty years, should plunder and 
despoil the same. They first landed on the eastern side of 
the island, by the invitation of the unlucky king, and there 
fixed their sharp talons, apparently to fight in favour of the 
island, but alas ! more truly against it. Their mother-land, 
finding her first brood thus successful, sends forth a larger 
company of her wolfish offspring, which sailing over, join 
themselves to their bastard-born comrades. From that time 
the jrqrm of iniquity and the root of contention planted . 
tl^irjioJ^axLJUttengst-us, as we deserved, and shot forth into ' 
leaves and branches. The barbarians being thus introduced 
as soldiers into the island, to encounter, as they falsely' said, 
any dangers in defence of their hospitable entertainers, ob- 
tain an allowance of provisions, which, for some time being 
plentifully bestowed, stopped their doggish mouths. Yet 
they complain that their monthly supplies are not furnished" 
in sufficient abundance, and they industriously aggravate 
each occasion of quarrel, saying that unless more liberality 
is shown them, they will break the treaty and plunder the 
whole island. In a short time, they follow up their threats 
with deeds. 

§ 24. For the fire of vengeance, justly kindled by former | 
crimes, spread from sea to sea, fed by the hands of our foes 
in the east, and did not cease, until, destroying the neigh- J 
bouring towns and lands, it reached the other side of the ; 
island, and dipped its red and savage tongue in the western ; 
ocean. In these assaults, therefore, not unlike that of the \ 
Assyrian upon Judea, was fulfilled in our case what the pro- \ 
phet describes in words of lamentation : " They have burned 
with fire the sanctuary; they have polluted on earth the 
tabernacle of thy name." And again, " O God, the gentiles 
have come into thine inheritance ; thy holy temple have they 
defiled," &c. So that all the columns were levelled with 
the ground by the frequent strokes of the battering-ram, all 
the husbandmen routed, together with their bishops, priests, 
and people, whilst the sword gleamed, and the flames 
orackled around them on every side. Lamentable to behold, 
in the midst of the streets lay the tops of lofty towers, 
tumbled to the ground, stones of high walls, holy altars, 
fragments of human bodies, covered with livid clots of coagu- 
lated blood, looking as if they had been squeezed together in 

912 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. [uc. 2fc 

a press ;* and with no chance of being buried, save in theX^ 
ruins of the houses, or in the ravening bellies of wild beasts X 
and birds; with reverence be it spoken for their blessed 
souls, if, indeed, there were many found who were carried, 
at that time, into the high heaven by the holy angels. So 
entirely had the vintage, once so fine, degenerated and be- 
come bitter, that, in the words of the prophet, there was 
hardly a grape or ear of corn to be seen where the husband- 

i man had turned his back. 

^ § 25. Some, therefore, of the miserable remnant, being 
taken in the mountains, were murdered in great numbers ; 
others, constrained by famine, came and yielded themselves 
to be slaves for ever to their foes, running the risk of being 
instantly slain, which truly was the greatest favour that 
could be offered them : some others passed beyond the seas 
with loud lamentations instead of the voice of exhortation. 
" Thou hast given us as sheep to be slaughtered, and among 
the Gentiles hast thou dispersed us." Others, committing 
the safeguard of their lives, which were in continual jeopardy, 
to the mountains, precipices, thickly wooded forests, and 
to the rocks of the seas (albeit with trembling hearts), 
remained still in their country. But in the meanwhile, an 
opportunity happening, when these most cruel robbers were 
returned home, the poor remnants of our nation (to whom 
flflcjsejifrom divers places round about our miserable coun- 
trymen as fast as bees to their hives, for fear of an ensuing 
storm), being strengthened by God, calling upon him with 
all their hearts, as the poet says, — 

* With their unnumbered vows, they burden heaven," 

that they might not be brought' to utter destruction, took 

arms under the conduct of\Ajnbf Ofiws -Aagcfeaauay a modest 

man, who of all the Roman nation was then alone in the 

confusion of this troubled period by chance left alive. His 

parents, who for their merit were adorned with the purple, 

had been slain in these same broils, and now his progeny in 

these our days, although shamefully degenerated from the 

worthiness of their ancestors, provoke to battle their cruel 

* These are the words of the old translation ; the original u obscure, 
V and perhaps corrupt. 


conquerors, and by the goodness of our Lord obtain the 

v § 26. After this, sometimes our countrymen, sometimes 
the enemy, won the field, to the end that our Lord might in 
this land try after his accustomed manner these his Israelites, 
whether they loved him or not, until the year of the siege of n . 
Ba th-hil l, when took place also the last almost, though not *^^ 
the least slaughter of our cruel foes, which was (as I ant ttK ^. 
sure) forty-four years and one month after the landing of the 
Saxons, and also the time of my own nativity. And yefc 
neither to this day are the. cities of our country inhabited as 
before, but being forsaken and overthrown, still lie desolate ; 
ou r foreign wars having ceased , but our civil troubles still 
remaining. S?or as well the remembrance of such a terrible 
desolation of the island, as also of the unexpected recovery 
of the same, remained in the minds of those who were eye- 
witnesses of the wonderful events of both, and in regard 
thereof, kings, public magistrates, and private persons, witt 
priests and clergymen, did all and every one of them live 
orderly according to their several vocations. But when 
these had departed out of this world, and a new race sue-* 
ceeded, who were ignorant of this troublesome time, and had* 
only experience of the present prosperity, all the laws of. 
truth and justice were so shaken and subverted, that not so- 
much as a vestige or remembrance of these virtues remained' 
among the above-named orders of men, except among a very 
few who, compared with the great multitude which were 
daily rushing headlong down to hell, are accounted so small 
a number, that our reverend mother, the church, scarcely 
beholds them, her only true children, reposing in her bosom ; 
whose worthy lives, being a pattern to all men, and beloved 
of God, inasmuch as by their holy prayers, as by certain 
pillars and most profitable supporters, our infirmity is sus- 
tained up, that it may not utterly be broken down, I would 
have no one suppose, I intended to reprove, if forced by the 
increasing multitude of offences,*! have freely, aye, with an- 
guish, not so much declared as bewailed the wickedness of 
those who are become servants, not only to their bellies, but 
also to the devil rather than to Christ, who is our blessed 
God, world without end. 

For why shall their countrymen conceal what foreign na* 

B14 THE WORKS OF GILDA8. L««c 27, 2& ' 

tions round about now not only know, but also continually 
are casting in their teeth ? 


§ 27. B.RiXAm lias kingg,.but they arejtyranfa ; she has 
jujigcs* but unrighteous, ones ; generally engaged in plunder 
and rapine, but always preying on the innocent ; whenever 
they exert themselves to avenge or protect, it is sure to be 
in favour of robbers and criminals ; they have an abundance 
of wives, j yet are they addicted to fornication and adultery ; 
they are. ever ready to take oaths, and as often perjure 
themselves \ they make a vow and almost immediately act 
falsely; they make war, but their wars are against their 
countrymen, and are unjust ones; they rigorously prosecute 
thieves throughout their country, but those who sit at table 
with them are robbers, and they not only cherish but reward 
them ; $&y give alms plentifully, but in contrast to this is a 
whole pile of crimes which they have committed ; they sit 
on the seat of justice, but rarely seek for the rule of right 
judgment; they despise the innocent and the humble, but 
seize every occasion of exalting to the utmost the bloody- 
minded ; the proud, murderers, the combined and adulterers, 
enemies of God, who ought to be utterly destroyed and their 
names forgotten. 

They have many prisoners in their gaols, loaded with 
chains, but this is done in treachery rather than in just 
punishment for crimes; and when they have stoo4 before 
the altar, swearing by the name of God, they go away and 
think no more of the holy altar than if it were a mere heap 
of dirty stones. , I 

§ 28. Of this horrid abomination, Constahtine** tne 
tyrannical whelp of the unclean lioness of Damnonia,f is 
not ignorant. 

This same year, after taking, a dreadful oath (whereby he 

* Probably Cystennyn of the Bards. Constantino is a name often 
occurring in the British royal families. The Constantino of Gildaa is 
supposed to have been king of Cornwall, who abdicated his throne, and 
afterwards preached the gospel to the Picts and Scots. Some account of 
him will be found in the Aberdeen Breviary, in the Acta Sanctorum, March, 
vol ii. p. 64, and in Whitaker's Cathedral of Cornwall, L 826. 

t The present counties of Devon and Cornwall 


bound himself first before God, by a solemn protestation, and 
then called all the saints, and Mother of God, to witness, 
that he would not contrive any deceit against his country- 
men), he nevertheless, in the habit of a holy abbat amid the 
jsacred altars, did with sword and javelin, as if with teeth, 
jgojuad and tear, even in the bosoms of their temporal 
mother, and of the church their spiritual mother,, two royal 
youths, with their two attendants, whose arms, although not 
cased in armour, were yet boldly used, and, stretched out 
towards God and his altar, will hang up at the gates of thy 
city, O Christ, the venerable ensigns of their faith and 
patience; and when he had done it, the cloaks, red with 
coagulated blood, did touch the place of the heavenly 
sacrifice. And not one worthy act could he boast of pre- 
vious to thi3 cruel deed; for many years before he had 
stained himself with the abomination of many adulteries, 
having put away his wife contrary to the command of 
Christ, the teacher of the world, who hath said : " What 
God hath joined together, let not man separate," and again : 
" Husbands, love your wives." For he had planted in the 
ground of his heart (an unfruitful soil for any good seed) a 
bitter scion of incredulity and folly, taken from the vine of 
Sodom, which being watered with his vulgar and domestic 
impieties, like poisonous showers, and afterwards audaciously 
springing up to the offence of God, brought forth into the 
world the sin of horrible murder and sacrilege ; and not yet 
discharged from the entangling nets of his former offences, 
he added new wickedness to the former. 

§ 29. Go to now, I reprove thee as present, whom I 
know as yet to be in this life extant. Why standest thou 
astonished, O thou butcher of thine own soul ? Why dost 
thou wilfully kindle against thyself the eternal fires of hell ? 
Why dost thou, in place of enemies, desperately stab thyself 
with thine own sword, with thine own javelin ? Cannot 
those same poisonous cups of offences yet satisfy thy 
stomach ? Look back (I beseech thee) and come to Christ 
(for thou labourest, and art pressed down to the earth with 
this huge burden), and he himself, as he said, will give 
thee rest. Come to him who wisheth not the death of a 
sinner) but that he should be rather converted and live* 
Unloose (according to the prophet) the bands of thy neck. 


816 THE WORKS OF GILDA8. [••c. J0,». 

O thou son of Sion. fifiimn (I pray thee), although from 
the far remote regions of sins, unto the most holy Father, 
who, for his son that will despise the filthy food of swine, 
and fear a death of cruel famine, and so come back to him 
again, hath with great joy been accustomed to kill his fatted 
calf, and bring forth for the wanderer, the first robe and 
royal ring, and then taking as it were a taste of the heavenly 
hope, thou shalt perceive how sweet our Lord is. For if 
thou dost contemn these, be thou assured, thou shalt almost 
instantly be tossed and tormented in the inevitable and dark 
floods of endless fire. 

§ 30. What dost thou also, thou lion's whelp (as the 
prophet saith), Aurelius Conanua?* Art not thou as the 
former (if not far moreHPoul) to thy utter destruction, 
swallowed up in the filthiness of horrible murders, forni- 
cations, and adulteries, as by an overwhelming flood of the 
sea ? Hast not thou by hating, as a deadly serpent, the 
peace of thy country, and thirsting unjustly after ci vil wa rs 
and frequent spoil, shut tne gates of heavenly peace and 
repose against thine own soul ? Being now left alone as a 
withering tree in the midst of a field, remember (I beseech 
thee) the vain and idle fancies of thy parents and brethren, 
together with the untimely death that befell them in the 
prime of their youth; and shalt thou, for thy religious 
deserts, be reserved out of all thy family to live a hundred 
years, or to attain to the age of a Methusalem ? No, surely, 
but unless (as the psalmist saith) thou shalt be speedily 
converted unto our Lord, that King will shortly brandish his 
sword against thee, who hath said by his prophet, " I will 
kill, and I will cause to live ; I will strike, and I will heal ; 
and there is no one who can deliver out of my hand." Be 
thou therefore shaken out of thy filthy dust, and with all 
thy heart converted to Him who hath created thee, that 
"when his wrath shall shortly burn out, thou mayst be 
blessed by fixing thy hopes on him." But if otherwise, 
eternal pains will bo heaped up for thee, where thou shalt be 
ever tormented and never consumed in the cruel jaws of hell. 

§ 31. Thou also, who like to the spotted leopard, art 
diverse in manners and in mischief, whose head now is 
growing grey, who art seated on a throne full of deceits, and 

* King of Powisland, which for some time formed a distinct kingdom. 


from the bottom even to the top art stained with murder and 
adulteries, thou naughty son of a good king, like Manassea 
sprung from Ezechiah, Vortipore, thou foolish tyrant of the 
Demetians,* why art thou so stiff? What! do not such 
violent gulfs of sin (which thou dost swallow up like 
pleasant wine, nay rather which swallow thee up), as yet 
satisfy thee, especially since the end of thy life is daily now 
approaching? Why dost thou heavily clog thy miserable 
soul with the sin of lust, which is fouler than any other, by 
putting away thy wife, and after her honourable death, by 
the base practices of thy shameless daughter ? Waste not (I 
beseech thee) the residue of thy life in offending God, 
because as yet an acceptable time and day of salvation 
shines on the faces of the penitent, wherein thou mayest 
take care that thy flight may not be in the winter, or on the 
sabbath day. " Turn away (according to the psalmist) from 
evil, and do good, seek peace and ensue it," because the eyes 
of our Lord will be cast upon. thee, when thou doest righte- 
ousness, and his ears will be then open unto thy prayers, 
and he will not destroy thy memory out of the land of the 
living ; thou shalt cry, and he will hear thee, and out of thy 
tribulations deliver thee; for Christ doth never despise a 
heart that is contrite and humbled with fear of him. 
Otherwise, the worm of thy torture shall not die, and the 
fire of thy burning shall never be extinguished. 

§ 32. And thou too 1 _£jiiieglasse 2 j > why art thou fallen into 
the filth of thy former naughtiness, yea, since the very first 
spring of thy tender youth, thou bear, thou rider and ruler 
of many, and guider of the chariot which is the receptacle 
of the bear, thou contemner of God, and vilifier of his 
order, thou tawny butcher, as in the Latin tongue thy name 
signifies. Why dost thou raise so great a war as well 
against men as also against God himself, against men, yea, 
thy own countrymen, with thy deadly weapons, and against 
God with thine infinite offences ? Why, besides thine other 
innumerable backslidings, having thrown out of doors thy 
wife, dost thou, in the lust, or rather stupidity of thy mind, 
against the apostle's express prohibition, denouncing that no 

* Inhabitants of the counties of Cardigan, Pembroke, and Carmarthen, 
t His dominions were north of Cambria, between the Severn and tht 
Western Sea. 

$18 THE WORKS OF vilLDAS. is«c 9% 

adulterers can be partakers of the kingdom of heaven, 
esteem her detestable sister, who had vowed unto God the 
everlasting continency, as the very flower (in the language 
of the poet) of the celestial nymphs? Why dost thou 
provoke with thy frequent injuries the lamentations and 
sighs of saints, by thy means corporally afflicted, which will 
in time to come, like a fierce lioness, break thy bones in 
pieces ? J)esist, I beseech thee (as the prophet saith) jrom 
jwratfr, a nd leave off thy deadly fury, which thou breathest 
out against heaven and earth, against God and his flock, and 
which in time will be thy own torment ; rather with altered 
mind obtain the prayers of those who possess a power of 
binding over this world, when in this world they bind the 
guilty, and of loosing when they loose the penitent. Be not 
(as the apostle saith) proudly wise, nor hope thou in the 
uncertainty of riches, but in God who giveth thee many 
things abundantly, and by the amendment of thy manners 
purchase unto thyself a good foundation for hereafter, and 
seek to enter into that real and true state of existence which 
will be not transitory but everlasting. Otherwise, thou 
shalt know and see, yea, in this very world, how bad and 
bitter a thing it is for thee to leave the Lord thy God, and 
not have his fear before thine eyes, and in the next, how 
thou shalt be burned in the foul encompassing flames of 
endless fire, nor yet by any manner of means shalt ever die. 
For the souls of the sinful are as eternal in perpetual fire, as 
the souls of the just in perpetual joy and gladness. 

§ 33. And likewise, O thou dragon of the island, who 
hast deprived many tyrants, as well of their kingdoms as of 
their lives, and though the last-mentioned in my writing, 
the first in mischief, exceeding many in power, and also in 
malice, more liberal than others in giving, more licentious in 
sinning, strong in arms, but stronger in working" thine own 
soulV destruction, Magloc une,* why art thou (as if soaked 
in the wine of the Sodomitical grape) foolishly rolling in 
that black pool of thine offences ? Why dost thou wilfully 
heap like a mountain, upon thy kingly shoulders, such a load 
of sins £ Why dost thou show thyself unto the King of kings 
(who hath made thee as well in kingdom as in stature of body 
bigher than almost all the other chiefs of Britain) not better 
* Frobably Maelgwi. Gwynedd, king f North Wales. 


likewise in virtues than the rest ; but on the contrary for thy 
sins much worse ? Listen then awhile and tear patiently the 
following enumeration of thy deeds, wherein I will not 
touch any domestic and light offences (if yet any of them are 
light) but only those open ones which are spread far and 
wide in the knowledge of all men. Didst not thou, in the 
very beginning of thy youth, terribly oppress with sword, 
spear, and fire, the king thine uncle, together with his coura- 
geous bands of soldiers, whose countenances in battle were 
not unlike those of young lions ? Not regarding the words 
of the prophet, who says, " The blood-thirsty and deceitful 
men shall not live out half their days ;" and even if the 
sequel of thy sins were not such as ensued, yet what retribution 
couldst thou expect for this offence only at the hands of the 
just Judge, who hath said by his prophet : " Woe be to thee 
who spoilest, and shalt not thou thyself be spoiled ? and thou 
who killest, shalt not thyself be killed ? and when thou shalt 
make an end of thy spoiling, then shalt thou thyself fall." 

§ 34. But when the imagination of thy violent rule had 
succeeded according to thy wishes, and thou wast urged by a 
desire to return into the right way, night and day the con- 
sciousness of thy crimes afflicted thee, whilst thou didst 
ruminate on the Lord's ritual and the ordinances of the 
monks, and then publish to the world and vgw thyself before 
God a monk with no intention to be unfaithful, as thou didst 
say, having burst through those toils in which such great 
beasts as thyself were used to become entangled, whether it 
were love of rule, of gold, or silver, or, what is stronger 
still, the fancies of thy own heart. And didst thou not, as a 
dove which cleaves the yielding air with its pinions, and by 
its rapid turns escapes the furious hawk, safely return to the 
cells where the saints repose, as a most certain place of 
refuge ? Oh how great a joy should it have been to our 
mother church, if the enemy of all mankind had not lament- 
ably pulled thee, as it were, out of her bosom I Oh what an 
abundant flame of heavenly hope would have been kindled in 
the hearts of desperate sinners, hadst thou remained in thy 
blessed estate ! Oh what great rewards in the kingdom of 
Christ would have been laid up for thy soul against the day 
of judgment, if that crafty wolf had not caught thee, who of 
a wolf wast now become a lamb (not much against thine own 

320 THE WORKS OF GI^DAS. ' [■».. * 

-will) out of the fold of our Lord, and made thee of a lamb, a 
wolf like unto himself, again ? Oh how great a joy would 
the preservation of thy salvation have been to God the 
Father of all saints, had not the devil, the father of all cast- 
aways, as an eagle of monstrous wings and claws, carried 
thee captive away against all right and reason, to the un- 
happy band of his children ? And to be short, thy conver- 
sion to righteousness gave as great joy to heaven and earth, 
as now thy detestable return, like a dog to his vomit, 
breedeth grief and lamentation : which being done, "the 
members which should have been busily employed, as the 
armour of justice for the Lord, are now become the armour 
of iniquity for sin and the devil ;" foi* now thou dost not 
listen to the praises of God sweetly sounded forth by the 
pleasant voices of Christ's soldiers, nor the instruments of 
ecclesiastical melody, but thy own praises (which are nothing) 
rung out after the fashion of the giddy rout of Bacchus by 
the mouths of thy villainous followers, accompanied with lies 
and malice, to the utter destruction of the neighbours ; so 
that the vessel prepared for the service of God, is now 
turned to a vessel of dirt, and what was once reputed worthy 
of heavenly honour, is now cast as it deserves into the 
bottomless pit of hell. 

§ 35. Yet neither is thy sensual mind (which is overcome 
by the excess of thy follies) at all checked in its course with 
committing so many sins, but hot and prone (like a young 
colt that coveteth every pleasant pasture) runneth headlong 
forward, with irrecoverable fury, through the intended fields 
of crime, continually increasing the number of its trans- 
gressions. For the former marriage of thy first wife 
(although after thy violated vow of religion she was not 
lawfully thine, but only by right of the time she was with 
thee), was now despised by thee, and another woman, the 
wife of a man then living, and he no stranger, but thy own 
brother's son, enjoyed thy affections. Upon which occasion 
that stiff neck of thine (already laden with sins) is now 
burdened with two monstrous murders, the one of thy aforesaid 
nephew, the other, of her who once was thy wedded wife : 
and thou art now from low to lower, and from bad to worse* 
bowed, bent, and sunk down into the lowest depth of sacri* 
lege Afterwards, also didst thou publicly marry the widow 


cy whose deceit and suggestion such a heavy weight of 
offences was undergone, and take her, lawfully, as tbe flatter- 
ing tongues of thy parasites with false words pronounced it, 
but as we say, most wickedly, to be thine own in wedlock. 
And therefore what holy man is there, who, moved with the 
narration of such a history, would not presently break out 
into weeping and lamentations ? What priest (whose heart 
lieth open unto God) would not instantly, upon hearing this, 
exclaim with anguish in the language of the prophet : " Who 
Shall give water to my head, and to my eyes a fountain of 
tears, and I will day and night bewail those of my people, 
who are slaughtered." For full little (alas !) hast thou with 
thine ears listened to that reprehension of the prophet speak- 
ing in this wise : " Woe be unto you, O wicked men, who 
have left the law of the most holy God, and if ye shall be 
born, your portion shall tie to malediction, and if ye die, to 
malediction shall be your portion, all things that are from 
the earth, to the earth shall be converted again, so shall the 
wicked from malediction pass to perdition :" if they return 
not unto our Lord, listening to this admonition : " Son, thou 
hast offended ; add no further offence thereunto, but rather 
pray for the forgiveness of the former." And again, " Be 
not slow to be converted unto our Lord, neither put off the 
same from day to day, for his wrath doth come suddenly." 
Because, as the Scripture saith, " When the king heareth the 
unjust word, all under his dominion become wicked." And, 
the just king (according to the prophet) raiseth up his region. 
But warnings truly are not wanting to thee, since thou hast 
had for thy instructor the most eloquent master of almost all 
Britain. Take heed, thereof, lest that which Solomon noteth, 
befall thee, which is, " Even as he who stirreth up a sleep- 
ing man out of his heavy sleep, so is that person who de- 
clareth wisdom unto a fool, for in the end of his speech will 
he say, What hast thou first spoken ? Wash thine heart (as 
it is written) from malice, O Jerusalem, that thou mayest 
be saved." Despise not (I beseech thee) the unspeakable 
mercy of God, calling by his prophet the wicked in this way 
from their offences : "I will on a sudden speak to the 
nation, and to the kingdom, that I may root out, and dis- 
perse, and destroy, and overthrow." As for the sinner he 
doth in this wise exhort him vehemently to repent. " And 


>ent of the evil w» wh0 ^u p* cotnio«»» a ^ eir lives. 
Si" ABd ■£* ffie , and keep ** d C ^ le ^itlx- 

a * they -JJ *J ^th ^Sronomy, " *5°Si** *»* 
at it may *» we Cant icle of P^ e they would » pursoeth » 

it counsel ^/fSsee^^ften thousand- ^ do labour 

.ousandand^oj « 4 ^ euuto «. ^ a 

„■». "Lord in the g" r , ^ ^nU n» y^cause 1 un „, lT s ouls. 
*a are burdened, ano^ rf beca y^ 8 nte mti 

iVWt vre »f f ^ ot m y part may «* ■ **? as to declare, ^ r 
L!o^« ver .V-«rvirtueof our ^ e of Israe 

4M.38.1 SAMUEL. 328 

history of the miseries of our time to have been brought to 
a conclusion, that I might no further discourse of the deeds 
of men ; but that I may not be thought timid or weary, 
whereby I might the less carefully avoid that saying of 
Isaiah, " Woe be to them who call good evil, and evil good, 
placing darkness for light, and light for darkness, bitter for 
sweet, and sweet for bitter, who seeing see not, and hearing 
hear not, whose hearts are overshadowed with a thick and 
black cloud of vices j" I will briefly set down the threaten- 
ings which are denounced against these five aforesaid lasci- 
vious horses, the frantic followers of Pharaoh, through whom 
his army is wilfully urged forward to their utter destruction 
in the Red Sea, and also against such others, by the saered 
oracles, with whose holy testimonies the frame of this our 
little work is, as it were, roofed in, that it may not be sub- 
ject to the showers of the envious, which otherwise would be 
poured thereon. Let, therefore, God's holy prophets, who 
are to mortal men the mouth of God, and the organ of the 
Holy Ghost, forbidding evils, and favouring goodness, an- 
swer for us as well now as formerly, against the stubborn 
and proud princes of this our age, that they may not say we 
menace them with such threats, and such great terrors of our 
own invention only, and with rash and over-2ealous meddling. 
For to no wise man is it doubtful how far more grievous the 
sins of this our time are than those of the primitive age, 
when the apostle said, " Any one transgressing the law, be- 
ing convicted by two or three witnesses, shall die, how much 
worse punishment think ye then that he deserveth, who shall 
trample under his foot the Son of God?" 

§ 38. And first of all appears before us , Sam uel, by 
God's commandment, the establisher of a lawful Tungdom, 
dedicated to God before his birth, undoubtedly known by 
marvellous signs, to be a true prophet unto all the- people, 
from Dan even to Beersheba, out of whose mouth the Holy 
Ghost thundereth to all the potentates of the world, de- 
nouncing Saul the first king of the Hebrews, only because 
he did not accomplish some matters commanded him of our 
Lord, in these words which follow : " Thou hast done 
foolishly, neither yet hast thou kept the commandments of 
our Lord thy God, that he hath given thee in charge ; which 
if thou hadst not committed, even now had our Lord pre- 

T 9 

324 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. [rac 3* 

pared thy reign over Israel for ever, but thy kingdom shall 
no farther arise." And what did he commit, whether it 
were adultery or murder, like to the offences of the present 
time ? No, truly, but broke in part one of God's command- 
ments, for, as one of our writers says, " The question is not 
of the quality of the sin, but of the violating of the pre- 
cept." Also when he endeavoured to answer (as he thought) 
the. objections of Samuel, and after the fashion of men wisely 
to make excuses for his offence in this manner : " Yea, I 
have obeyed the voice of our Lord, and walked in the way 
through which he hath sent me ;" with this rebuke was he 
corrected by him : " What ! will our Lord have burnt offer- 
ings or oblations, and not rather that the voice of our Lord 
should be obeyed ? Obedience is better than oblations, and 
to hearken unto him, better than to offer the fat of rams. 
For as it is the sin of soothsaying to resist, so is it the 
offence of idolatry not to obey ; in regard, therefore, that 
thou hast cast away the word of our Lord, he hath also cast 
thee away that thou be not king." And a little after, i( Our 
Lord hath this day rent the kingdom of Israel from thee, 
and delivered it up to thy neighbour, a man better than thy- 
self. The Triumpher of Israel truly will not spare, and will not 
be bowed with repentance, neither yet is he a man that he 
should repent ;" that is to say, upon the stony hearts of the 
wicked : wherein it is to be noted how he saith, that to be 
disobedient unto God is the sin of idolatry. Let not, there- 
fore, our wicked transgressors (while they do not openly 
sacrifice to the gods of the Gentiles) flatter themselves that 
they are not idolaters, whilst they tread like swine the most 
precious pearls of Christ under their feet. 

§ 39. But although this one example as an invincible 
affirmation might abundantly suffice to correct the wicked ; 
yet, that by the mouths of many witnesses all the offences 
of Britain may be proved, let us pass to the rest. What 
happened to David for numbering his people, when the pro- 
phet Gad spake unto him in this sort? Thus saith our 
Lord : " The choice of three things is offered thee, choose 
which thou wilt, that I may execute it upon thee. Shall 
there befall thee a famine for seven years, or shalt thou flee 
three months before thine enemies, and they pursue thee, o* 
•hall there be three days' pestilence in thy land ?" For be- 


iog brought into great straits by this condition, and willing 
rather to fall into the hands of God who is merciful, than 
into those of men, he was humbled with the slaughter of 
seventy thousand of his subjects, and unless with the affec- 
tion of an apostolic charity, he had desired to die himself 
for his countrymen, that the plague might not further con- 
sume them, saying, "I am he that has offended, I the 
shepherd have dealt unjustly: but these sheep, what have 
they sinned ? Let thy hand, I beseech thee, be turned 
against me, and against the house of my father;" he would 
have atoned for the unadvised pride of his heart with his 
own death. For what does the scripture afterwards declare 
of his son ? " And Solomon wrought that which was not 
pleasing before our Lord, and he did not fill up the measure 
of his good deeds by following the Lord like his father 
David. And our Lord said unto him, Because thou hast 
thus behaved thyself, and not observed my covenant and 
precepts, which I have commanded thee, breaking it asun- 
der ; I will divide thy kingdom, and give the same unto thy 

§ 40. Hear now likewise what fell upon the two sacrile- 
gious kings of Israel (even such as ours are), Jeroboam and 
Baasha, unto whom the sentence and doom of our Lord is 
by the prophet in this way directed : " For what cause have 
I exalted thee a prince over Israel, in regard that they have 
provoked me by their vanities. Behold I will stir up after 
Baasha and after his house, and I will give over his house as 
the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Whoso of his 
blood shall die in the city, the dogs shall eat him, and the 
dead carcass of him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of 
the air eat." What doth he also threaten unto that wicked 
king of Israel, a worthy companion of the former, by whose 
collusion and his wife's deceit, innocent Naboth was for his 
father's vineyard put to death, when the holy mouth of Elias, 
yea, the selfsame mouth that was instructed with the fiery 
speech of our Lord, thus spake unto him : " Hast thou killed 
and also taken possession, and after this wilt thou yet add 
more ? Thus saith our Lord, in this very place, wherein 
the dogs have licked the blood of Naboth, they shall lick up 
thy blood also." Which fell out afterwards in that very 
sort, as we have certain proof. But lest perchance (as befell 

826 THE WORKS OF GHLDAS. ne. 41 

Ahab also) the lying spirit, which pronounceth vain, things 
in jthe mouths of your prophets may seduce you, hearken 
to the words of the prophet Micaiah : " Behold God hath 
suffered the spirit of lying to possess the mouths of all thy 
prophets that do here remain, and our Lord hath pronounced 
evil against thee." For even now it is certain that there are 
some teachers inspired with a contrary spirit, preaching and 
affirming rather what is pleasing, however depraved, than 
what is true : whose words are softer than oil, and the same 
are darts, who say, peace, peace, and there shall be no peace 
to them, who persevere in their sins, as says the prophet in 
another place also, " It is not for the wicked to rejoice, saith 
our Lord." 

§ 41. Azarias, also, the son of Obed, spoke unto Asa, 
who returned from the slaughter of the army of ten hun- 
dred thousand Ethiopians, saying, ".Our Lord is with you 
while you remain with him, and if you will seek him out, 
he will be found by you, and if you will leave him, he 
will leave you also." For if Jehosaphat for only assisting a 
wicked king, was thus reproved by the prophet Jehu, the 
son of Ananias, saying, " If thou givest aid to a sinner, or 
lovest them whom our Lord doth hate, the wrath of God 
doth therefore hang over thee," what shall become of them 
who are fettered in the snares. of their own offences ? whose 
sin we must of necessity hate, if not their souls, if we wish 
to fight in the army of the Lord, according to the words of 
the Psalmist, " Hate ye evil, who love our Lord." What 
was said to Jehoram, the son of the above-named Jehosa- 
phat, that most horrible murderer (who being himself a 
bastard, slew his noble brethren, that he might possess the 
throne in their place, by the prophet Elias, who was the 
chariot and charioteer of Israel? "Thus speaketh the 
Lord God of thy father David. Because thou hast not 
walked in the way of thy father Jehosaphat, and in the 
ways of Asa the king of Judah, but hast walked in the 
ways of the kings of Israel, and in adultery according to the 
behaviour of the house of Ahab, and hast moreover killed 
thy brethren, the sons of Jehosaphat, men far better than 
thyself, behold, our Lord shall strike thee and thy children 
with a mighty plague." And a little, afterwards, " And thou 
shalt be very sick of a disease of thy belly, until thy entrails 

sec. 42. j ISAIAH'S PROPHECIES 327 

•ball, together with the malady itself, from day to day, come 
forth out of thee*" And listen also what the prophet Zaoha- 
rimh, the son of Jehoiades, menaced to Joash, the king of 
Israel, when he abandoned our Lord even as ye now do, and 
the prophet spoke in this manner to the people : " Thus saith 
our Lord, Why do ye transgress the commandments of our 
Lord and do not prosper? Because ye have left our Lord, 
•he will also leave you." 

§ 42. What shall I mention of Isaiah, the first and chief 
of the -prophets, who beginneth his prophecy, or rather 
vision, in this ways '* Hear, O ye heavens, and O thou earth 
'conceive in thine ears, because our Lord hath spoken, I have 
nourished children, and exalted them, but they themselves 
have-despised me. The ox hath known his owner, and the 
ass his master's crib, but Israel hath not known me, and my 
people hath not understood.". -And a little further with 
thpeatenings answerable to so great a folly, he saith, " The 
daughter of Sion shall be .utterly left as a tabernacle in the 
vineyard, and as a hovel in the cucumber garden, and a city 
that is sacked." And especially, convening and accusing the 
princes, he saith, " Hear the word of our Lord, O ye princes 
of Sodom, perceive ye the law of our Lord, ye people of 
Gomorrah*" Wherein it is to be noted, that unjust kings 
are termed the princes of Sodom, for our Lord, forbidding 
sacrifices and gifts to be offered to him by such persons, and 
seeing that we greedily receive those offerings which in all 
nations are displeasing: unto God, and to our own destruction 
sufler them not to be bestowed on the poor and needy, speak 
thus to them who, laden with riches, are likewise given to 
offend on this head: " Offer no more your sacrifice in vain, 
your incense is abomination unto me." And again he 
denounceth them thus: "And when ye shall stretch out 
your hands, I will turn away mine eyes from you, and when 
ye shall multiply your prayers, I will not hear." And he 
declareth wherefore he does this, saying, " Your hands are 
full of blood." And likewise showing how he may be 
appeased, he says, " Be ye washed, be ye clean, take away 
the evil of your thoughts from mine eyes : cease to do evil, 
learn to do well: seek for judgment, succour the oppressed, 
do justice to the pupil or orphan*" . And then assuming as it 
were the part of a reconciling mediator, he adds, ''Though 

328 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. {*tc.4&. 

your sins shall be as scarlet, they shall be made white as 
snow : though they shall be as red as the little worm,* they 
shall be as white as wool. If ye shall be willing to hear me, 
ye shall feed on the good things of the land ; but if ye will 
not, but provoke me unto wrath, the sword shall devour you." 

§ 43. Receive ye the true and public avoucher, witnessing, 
without any falsehood or flattery, the reward of your good 
and evil, not like the soothing humble lips of your parasites, 
which whisper poisons into your ears. And also directing 
his sentence against ravenous judges, he saith thus : " Thy 
princes are unfaithful, companions of thieves, all love gifts, 
hunt after rewards: they do no justice to the orphan, the 
widow's cause entereth not unto them. For thus saith our 
Lord God of hosts, the strong one of Israel, Alas, I will 
take consolation upon my foes, and be revenged upon mine 
enemies ; and the heinous sinners shall be broken to powder, 
and offenders together with them, and all who have left our 
Lord, shall be consumed." And afterwards, " The eyes of 
the lofty man shall be brought low, and the height of men 
hath bowed down." And again, " Woe be to the wicked, 
evil befall him, for he shall be rewarded according to his 
handy-work." And a little after, " Woe be unto you who 
arise early to follow drunkenness, and to drink even to the 
very evening, that ye may fume with wine. The harp, and 
the lyre, and the tabor, and the pipe, and wine are in your 
banquets, and the work of our Lord ye respect not, neither 
yet consider ye the works of his hands. Therefore is my 
people led captive away, because they have not had know- 
ledge, and their nobles have perished with famine, and their 
multitude hath withered away with thirst. Therefore hath 
hell enlarged and dilated his spirit, and without measure 
opened his mouth, and his strong ones, and his people, and 
his lofty and glorious ones, shall descend down unto him. r 
And afterwards, " Woe be unto you who are mighty for the 
drinking of wine, and strong men for the procuring of 
drunkenness, who justify the wicked for rewards, and 
deprive the just man of his justice. For this cause even as 
the tongue of the fire devoureth the stubble, and as the heat 
of the flame burnetii up, so shall their root be as the ashes, 
and their branch shall rise up as the dust. For they ha?e 

• Vermilion, the Engliah yeraiGD, seems derived from vermes, a worm. 

•sc.44,45.] isaiah's prophecies 329 

cast away the law of our Lord of hosts, and despised the 
speech of the holy one of Israel. In all these the fury of 
our Lord is not turned away, but as yet his hand is stretched 

§ 44. And further on, speaking of the day of judgment 
and the unspeakable fears of sinners, he says, " Howl ye, 
because the day of our Lord is near at hand (if so near at 
that time, what shall it now be thought to be ?) for destruction 
shall proceed from God. For this shall all hands be 
dissolved, and every man's heart shall wither away, and be 
bruised; tortures and dolours shall hold them, as a woman in 
labour so shall they be grieved, every man shall at his 
neighbour stand astonished, burned faces shall be their 
countenances. Behold, the day of our Lord shall come, 
fierce and full of indignation, and of wrath, and fury, to 
turn the earth into a desert, and break her sinners in small 
pieces from off her; because the stars of heaven and the 
brightness of them, shall not unfold their light, the sun in 
his rising shall be covered over with darkness, and the moon 
shall not shine in her season ; and I will visit upon the evils 
of the world, and against the wicked, their own iniquity, and 
I will make the pride of the unfaithful to cease, and the 
arrogancy of the strong, I will bring low." And again, 
" Behold our Lord will disperse the earth, and he will strip 
her naked, and afflict her face, and scatter her inhabitants ; 
and as the people, so shall be the priest ; and as the slave, so 
shall be his lord ; as the handmaid, so shall be her lady ; as 
the purchaser, so shall be the seller ; as the usurer, so shall 
be he that borroweth ; as he who demandeth, so shall he be 
that oweth. With dispersing shall the earth be scattered, 
and with sacking shall she be spoiled. For our Lord hath 
spoken this word. The earth hath bewailed, and hath flitted 
away ; the world hath run to nothing, she is weakened by 
her inhabitants, because they have transgressed laws, 
changed right, brought to ruin the eternal truce. For this 
shall malediction devour the earth." 

§ 45. And afterwards, "They shall lament all of them 

who now in heart rejoice, the delight of the timbrels hath 

ceased, the sound of the gladsome shall be silent, the 

sweetness of the harp shall be hushed, they shall not with 

1 singing drink their wine, bitter shall be the potion to the 

880 THE WOKKS OF 'ULDAS. [mm 4ft 

drinkers thereof. The city of vanity is wasted, every house 
is shut up, no man entering in ; an outcry shall be in the 
streets over the wine, all gladness is forsaken, the joy of the 
land is transferred, solitariness is left in the town, and 
calamity shall oppress the gates, because these things shall 
be in the midst of the land, and in the midst of the people." 
And a little further, " Swerving from the truth, they have 
wandered out of the right way, with the straggling of 
transgressors have they gone astray. Fear and intrapping 
falls, and a snare upon thee who art the inhabitant of the 
earth. And it shall come to pass t whoso shall flee from the 
voice of the fear, shall tumble down into the intrapping pit; 
and whoso shall deliver himself out of the downfall, shall be 
caught in the entangling snare : because the flood-gates from 
aloft shall be opened, and the foundations of the earth shall 
oe shaken. With bruising shall the earth be broken, with 
commotion shall she be moved, with tossing shall she be 
shaken like a drunken man, and she shall be taken away as 
if she were a pavilion of one night's pitching, and her 
iniquities shall hang heavy upon her, and she shall fall 
down, and shall not attempt to rise again. And it shall be, 
that our Lord in the same day shall look on the warfare of 
heaven on high, and on the kings of the earth, who are 
upon the earth, and they shall be gathered together in the 
bundle of one burden into the lake, and shall there be shut 
up in prison, and after many days shall they be visited. 
And the moon shall blush, and the sun be confounded, 
when our Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Sion and in 
Jerusalem, and be glorified in the sight of his seniors." 

§ 46. And after a while, giving a reason why he threat- 
ened in that sort, he says thus: "Behold the hand of our 
Lord is not shortened that he cannot save, neither is his ear 
made heavy that he may not hear. But your iniquities have 
divided between you and your God, and your offences, have 
hid his face from you, that he might not hear. For your 
hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity : 
your lips have spoken lying, and your tongue uttereth 
iniquity. There is none who calleth on justice, neither is 
there he who judgeth truly, but they trust in nothing, and 
speak vanities, and have conceived grief, and brought forth 
iniquity." And a little after, " Their works are i nprofitaUe. 

•jkj.47.] jekemiah's prophecies. 33] 

and the work of iniquity is in their hands ; their feet run 
into evil, and make haste that they may shed the innocent 
blood; their thoughts are unprofitable thoughts, spoil and 
confusion are in their ways, and the way of peace they have 
not known, and in their steps there is no judgment, their 
paths are made crooked unto them, every one who treadeth 
in them is ignorant of peace; in this respect is judgment 
removed far off from you, and justice taketh no hold on you." 
And after a few words, " And judgment hath been turned 
back, and justice hath stood afar off, because truth hath 
fallen down in the streets, and equity could not enter in ; and 
truth is turned into oblivion, and whoso hath departed from 
evil, hath lain open to spoih And our Lord hath seen, 
and it was not pleasing in his eyes, because there is not 

§ 47. And thus far may it suffice among many, to have 
recited a few sentences out of the prophet Isaiah. 
• But now with diligent ears hearken unto him, who was 
foreknown before he was formed in the belly, sanctified 
before he came out of the womb, and appointed a prophet in 
all nations : I mean Jeremiah, and hear what he hath pro- 
nounced of foolish people and cruel kings, beginning his pro- 
phecy in his mild and gentle manner. 

"And' the word of God was spoken unto me, saying, Go 
and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, and thou shalt pronounce, 
Hear the word of our Lord, thou house of Jacob, and all ye 
kindred of the house of Israel : Thus saith our Lord ; What 
iniquity have your fathers found in me, who have been far 
removed from me, and walked after vanity, and are become 
vain, and have not said, Where is he who made us go up out 
of the land of Egypt ?" And after a few words, " From the 
beginning of thine age thou hast broken my yoke, violated 
my bands, and said, I will not serve, I have planted thee my 
chosen vine, all true seed. How art thou therefore converted 
into naughtiness ? O strange vine ! 'If thou shalt wash thee 
with nitre, and multiply unto thee the herb borith, thou art 
spotted in my sight with thine iniquity, saith our Lord." 
And afterwards, " Why will ye contend with me in judg- 
ment? Ye have all forsaken me, saith our Lord, in vain 
have I corrected your children, they have not received dig* 
eipline. Hear ye the word of our Lord. Am I made a soli* 

332 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. [lie 48. « 

tariness unto Israel, or a late bearing land ! why therefore 
hath my people said, we have departed, we will come no 
more unto thee ? Doth the virgin forget her ornament, or 
the spouse her gorget ? my people truly hath forgotten me 
for innumerable days. Because my people are foolish, they 
have not known me, they are unwise and mad children. 
They are wise to do evil, but to do well they have been 

§ 48. Then the prophet speaketh in his own person saying, 
" Lord thine eyes do respect faith, thou hast stricken them, 
and they have not sorrowed, thou hast broken them and they 
have refused to receive discipline, they have made their 
faces harder than the rock, and will not return." And also 
our Lord : " Declare ye this same to the house of Jacob, 
and make it to be heard in Judah, saying, Hear, ye foolish 
people who have no heart, who having eyls see not, and ears 
hear not. Will ye not therefore dread me, saith our Lord, 
and will ye not conceive grief from my countenance, who 
have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, an eternal 
commandment which she shall not break, and her waves 
shall be moved, and they cannot, and her surge shall swell, 
and yet not pass the same ? But to this people is framed an 
incredulous and an exasperating heart, they have retired 
and gone their ways, and not in their heart said, Let us fear 
our Lord God;" And again, "Because there are found 
among my people wicked ones, framing wiles to entangle as 
if they were fowlers, setting snares and gins to catch men : 
as a net that is full of birds, so are their houses filled with 
deceits. Therefore are they magnified and enriched, they 
are become gross and fat, and have neglected my speeches 
most vilely, the orphans' cause they have not decided, and 
the justice of the poor they have not adjudged. What ! 
shall I not visit these men, saith our Lord ? or shall not my 
soul be revenged upon such a nation ?" 

§ 49. But God forbid that ever should happen unto you, 
that which followeth, " Thou shalt speak all these words 
unto them, and they shall not hear thee ; and thou shalt call 
them, and they shall not answer thee ; and thou shalt say un- 
to them, This is the nation that hath not heard the voice of 
their Lord God, nor yet received discipline, faith hath 
perished, and been taken away from out of their mouth." 

•w.49.] jeremtah's prophecies. 333 

And after some few speeches, " Whoso falleth doth he not 
arise again, and whoso is turned away, shall he not return 
again ? why therefore is this people in Jerusalem, with a 
contentious aversion alienated ? they havB apprehended 
lying, and they will not come back again. I have been 
attentive, and hearkened diligently, no man speaketh what 
is good. There is none who repenteth of his sin, saying, 
What have I done ? All are turned unto their own course, 
like a horse passing with violence to battle. The kite in 
the sky hath known her time, the turtle, and swallow, and 
stork have kept the season of their coming, but my people 
hath not known the judgment of God." And the prophet, 
being smitten with fear at so wonderful a blindness, and un- 
speakable drunkenness of the sacrilegious, and lamenting 
them who did not lament themselves (even according to the 
present behaviour of these our unfortunate tyrants), be- 
seecheth of our Lord, that an augmentation of tears might 
be granted him, speaking in this manner, "I am contrite 
upon the contrition of the daughter of my people, astonish- 
ment hath possessed me : is there no balm in Gilead, or is 
there no physician there ? Why therefore is not the wound 
of the daughter of my people healed ? Who shall give water 
unto my head, and to mine eyes a fountain of tears, and I 
will day and night bewail the slaughtered of my people ? 
who will grant me in the wilderness the inn of passengers ? 
and I will utterly leave my people, and depart from them ; 
because they are all of them adulterers, a root of offenders, 
and they have bent their tongue as the bow of lying, and 
not of truth, they are comforted in the earth, because they 
have passed from evil to evil, and not known me, saith our 
Lord." And again : " And our Lord hath said, Because 
they have forsaken my law, which I have given them, and 
not heard my voice, nor walked thereafter, and have wan- 
dered away after the wickedness of their own heart, in that 
respect our Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saith these 
words, Behold I will feed this people with wormwood, and 
give them to drink the water of gall." And a little after 
(speaking in the person of God), " See therefore thou do not 
pray for this people, nor assume thou for them praise and 
prayer, because I will not hear in the time of their outcry 
unto me, and of their affliction." 


§ 50. What then shall now our miserable governors do, 
these few who found out the narrow way and left the large, 
were by God forbidden to pour out their prayers for such as 
persevered in their evils, and so highly provoked his wrath, 
against whom on the contrary side when they returned with 
all their hearts unto God (his divine Majesty being unwilling 
that the soul of man should perish, but calling back the cast- 
away that he should not utterly be destroyed) the same pro- 
phets could not procure the heavenly revenge, because Jonas, 
when he desired the like most earnestly against the Nifie- 
vites, could not obtain it But in the meanwhile omitting 
our own words, let us rather hear what the prophetic trumpet 
soundeth in our ears speaking thus : " If thou shalt say in 
thy heart, Why have these evils befallen ? For the multitude 
of thine iniquities. If the Ethiopian can change his skin, or 
the leopard his sundry spots, ye may also do well when ye 
have learned evil/' ever supposing that ye will not. And 
afterwards : " These words doth our Lord say to this people, 
who have loved to move their feet, and have not rested, and 
not pleased our Lord, Now shall he remember their iniqui- 
ties, and visit their offences ; and our Lord said unto me* 
Pray thou not for this people to work their good, when they 
fast, I will not hear their prayers ; and if they offer burnt 
sacrifices and oblations, I will not receive them." And again, 
" And our Lord said unto me, If Moses and Samuel shall 
stand before me, my soul is not bent to this people, cast them 
out away from my face, and let them depart." And after a 
few words : " Who shall have pity on thee Jerusalem, or 
who shall be sorrowful for thee, or who shall pray for thy 
peace ? Thou hast left me (saith our Lord) and gone away 
backward, and I will stretch forth my hand over thee, and 
kill thee." And somewhat after : " Thus saith our Lord, 
Behold I imagine a thought against you, let every man re- 
turn from his evil course, and make straight your ways and 
endeavours, who said, we despair, we will go after our own 
thoughts, and every one of us will do the naughtiness of his 
evil heart. Thus therefore saith our Lord, Ask the Gen- 
tiles, who hath heard such horrible matters, which the virgin 
Israel hath too often committed ? Shall there fail from the 
rock of the field, the snow of Libanus ? or can the waters 
be drawn dry that gush out cold and flowing ? because my 

no. 40-43.] ABRAHAM, HOSEA, AMOS. 333 

people bath forgotten me." And gomewhat also after this 
propounding unto them an election, he speaking saith, 
"Thus saith our Lord, Do ye judgment and justice, and 
deliver him who by power is oppressed out of the band of 
the malicious accuser ; and for the stranger, and orphan, and 
widow, do not provoke their sorrow, neither yet work ye un- 
justly the grief of others, nor shed ye forth the innocent 
blood. For if indeed ye shall accomplish this word, there 
shall enter in through the gates of this house, kings of the 
lineage of David, sitting upon his throne. But if ye will 
not hearken unto these words, by myself I have sworn (saith 
our Lord) that this house shall be turned into a desert." 
And again (for he spoke of a wicked king), " As I live (saith 
our Lord) if so be that Jechonias shall be a ring on my 
right hand, I will pluck him away, and give him over into 
the hands of them who seek his life." 

§51. Moreover, holy Abraham crieth out, saying, "Woe 
be unto them who build a city in blood, .and prepare a town 
in iniquities, saying, Are not these things from our almighty 
Lord ? and many people have failed in fire, and many nations 
nave been diminished." And thus complaining, he begins 
his prophecy : " How long, O Lord, shall I call, and thou wilt 
not hear ? Shall I cry out unto thee, to what end hast thou 
given me labours and griefs, to behold misery and impiety?" 
And on the other side, " And judgment was sat upon, and 
the judge hath taken in regard hereof, the law is rent in 
pieces, and judgment is not brought fully to his conclusion, 
because the wicked through power treadeth the just under 
foot. In this respect hath passed forth perverse judg- 

§ 52. And mark ye also what blessed Hosea the prophet 
says of princes : " For that they have transgressed my cove- 
nant, and ordained against my law, and exclaimed, we have 
known thee, because thou art against Israel. They have 
persecuted good, as if it were evil. They have reigned for 
themselves and not by me; they have held a principality, 
neither yet have they acknowledged me." 

§ 53. And hear ye likewise the holy prophet Amos, in 
this sort threatening : " In three heinous offences of the sons 
of Judah, and in four I will not convert them, for that they 
have cast away the law of our Lord, and not kept his com- 

336 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. * Lsac. » 

mandments, but their vanities have seduced them. And I 
will send fire upon Judah, and it shall eat the foundations of 
Jerusalem. Thus saith our Lord ; In three grievous sins of 
Israel, and in four I will not convert them, for that they have 
sold the just for money, and the poor man for shoes, which 
they tread upon the dust of the earth, and with buffets they 
did beat the heads of the poor, and have eschewed the way 
of the humble." And after a few words, " Seek our Lord 
and ye shall live, that the house of Joseph may not shine as 
fire, and the flame devour it, and he shall not be, that can 
extinguish it. The house of Israel hath hated him who re- 
buketh in the gates, and abhorred the upright word." Which 
Amos, being forbidden to prophesy in Israel, without any 
fawning flattery, saith in answer, " I was not a prophet, nor 
yet the son of a prophet, but a goatherd ; I was plucking 
sycamores and our Lord took me from my herd, and our 
Lord said unto me, Go thy way and prophesy against my 
people of Israel : and now hear thou the word of our Lord 
(for he directed his speech unto the king), thou sayest, do 
not prophesy against Israel, and thou shalt not assemble 
troops against the house of Jacob. For which cause our 
Lord saith thus, thy wife in the city shall play the harlot, 
and thy sons and daughters shall die by the sword, and thy 
ground be measured by the cord, and thou in a polluted land 
shalt end thy life, but for Israel, she shall be led from his 
own country a captive." And afterwards, " Hear therefore 
these words, ye who do outrageously afflict the poor, and 
practise your mighty power against the needy of the earth, 
who say, when shall the month pass over that we may pur- 
chase, and the sabbaths that we may open the treasuries." 
And within a few words after, " Our Lord doth swear against 
the pride of Jacob, if he shall in contempt forget your ac- 
tions, and if in these the earth shall not be disturbed, and 
every inhabitant thereof fall to lamentation, and the final 
end as a flood ascend, and I will turn your festival days into 
wailing, and cast haircloth on the loins of every one, and on 
the head of every man baldness, and make him as the mourn- 
ing of one over beloved, and those who are with him as the 
day of his sorrow." And again, " In the sword shall die all 
the sinners of my people, who say, evils shall not approach? 
nor yet shall light upon us.* 


§ 54. And listen ye, likewise, what holy Michah the 
prophet hath spoken, saying* "Hearken, ye tribes. And 
what shall adorn the city ? Shall not fire ? and the house 
of the wicked hoarding up unjust treasures, and with 
injury unrighteousness ? If the wrongful dealer shall be 
justified in the balance, and deceitful weights in the scales, 
by which they have neaped up their riches in ungodli- 

§ 55. And hear also what threats the famous prophet 
Zephaniah thundereth out : saith he, " The great day of our 
Lord is near ; it is at hand, and very swiftly approacheth. 
The voice of the day of our Lord is appointed to be bitter 
and mighty, that day, a day of wrath, a day of tribulation 
and necessity, a day of clouds and mist, a day of the trum- 
pet and outcry, a day of misery and extermination, a day of 
darkness and dimness upon the strong cities and high corners. 
And I will bring men to tribulation, and they shall go as if 
they were blind, because they have offended our Lord, and I 
will pour out their blood as dust, and their flesh as the dung 
of oxen, and their silver and gold shall not be able to deliver 
them in the day of the wrath of our Lord. And in the fire 
of his zeal shall the whole earth be consumed, when the 
Lord shall accomplish his absolute end, and bring solitariness 
upon all the inhabitants of the earth. Come together and 
be joined in one, thou nation without discipline, before ye be 
made as the fading flower, before the wrath of our Lord falleth 
upon ye." 

§ 56. And give ear also unto that which the prophet 
Haggai speaketh : " Thus saith our Lord, I will once move 
the heaven, and earth, and sea, and dry land, and I will 
drive away the thrones of kings, and root out the power of 
the kings of the Gentiles, and I will chase away the chariots 
of those who mount upon them." 

§ 57. Now also behold what Zacharias the son of Addo, 
that chosen prophet, said, beginning his prophecy in this 
manner : " Return to me, and I will return unto you, saith 
our Lord, and be not like your fathers, to whom the former 
prophets have imputed, saying, Thus saith our almighty 
Lord, Turn away from your ways, and they have not marked 
w hereby they might obediently hear me." And afterwards, 
" And the angel asked me, what dost thou see ? And I 


888 TUE WORKS OF GILDAS. [nc. «§,». 

said, I sec a flying scythe, which containeth in length 
twenty cubits. The malediction which hath proceeded upon 
the face of the whole earth; because every one of her 
thieves shall be punished even to the death, and I will throw 
him away, saith our almighty Lord, and he shall enter into 
the house of fury, and into the house of swearing falsehood 
in my name." 

§ 58. Holy Malachy the prophet also saith, "Behold, 
the day of our Lord shall come, inflamed as a furnace, 
and all proud men, and all workers of iniquity shall be 
as stubble, and the approaching day of the Lord of hosts 
shall set them on fire, which shall not leave a root nor a bud 
of them." 

§ 59. And hearken ye also what holy Job debateth of the 
beginning and end of the ungodly, saying, " For what pur- 
pose do the wicked live, and have grown old dishonestly, and 
their issue hath been according to their own desire, and 
their sons before their faces, and their houses are fruitful, 
and no fear nor yet the scourge of our Lord is upon them. 
Their cow hath not been abortive, their great with young 
hath brought forth her young ones and not missed, but re- 
maineth as an eternal breed ; and their children rejoice, and 
taking the psaltery and harp, have finish^ {heir days in feli- 
city and fallen peaceably asleep down into*— ell." Doth God, 
therefore, not behold the works of the wicked ? Not so, 
truly, " But the candle of the ungodly shall be extinguished, 
and destruction shall fall upon them, and pains as of one in 
childbirth, shall withhold them from wrath ; and they shall 
be as chaff before the wind, and as the dust which the whirl- 
wind hath carried away. Let all goodness fail his children ; 
let his eyes behold his own slaughter, nor yet by our Lord 
let him be redeemed." And a little after, he saith of the 
same men, " Who have ravenously taken the flock with the 
shepherd, and driven away the beast of the orphans, and en- 
gaged the ox of the widow, and deceiving, . have declined 
from the way of necessity. They have reaped other men's 
fields before the time ; the poor have laboured in the vine- 
yards of the mighty without hire and meat, they have ma$e 
many to sleep naked without garments ; of the covering of 
their life they have bereaved them." And somewhat after- 
wards, when he had thoroughly understood their works, be 


delivered thtm over to darkness. " Let, therefore, his por- 
tion be accursed from the earth ; let his plantings bring forth 
withering^ ; let him for this be rewarded according to his 
dealings ; let every wicked man like the unsound wood be 
broken in pieces. For arising in his wrath hath he over- 
thrown the impotent. Wherefore truly shall he have no 
trust of his life; when he shall begin to grow diseased, let 
him not hope for health, but fall into languishing. For his 
pride hath been the hurt of many, and he is become decayed 
and rotten, as the mallows in the scorching heat, or as the 
ear of corn when it falleth off from its stubble." And after- 
wards, " If his children shall be many, they shall be turned 
to the slaughter, and if he gather together silver as if it were 
earth, and likewise purify his gold as if it were dirt, all 
these same shall the just obtain." 

§ 60. Hear ye moreover what blessed Esdras, that cyclo- 
paedia of the divine law, threateneth in his discourse. " Thus 
saith our Lord God : My right hand shall not be sparing 
upon sinners, neither shall the sword cease over them who 
spill the innocent blood on the earth. Fire shall proceed 
from out of my wrath, and devour the foundations of the 
earth, and sinners as if they were inflamed straw. Woe be 
unto them who ' nd, and observe not my commandments* 
saith our Lord, I will not forbear them. Depart from me ye 
apostatizing children, and do not pollute my sanctuary. God 
doth know who offend against him, and he will therefore 
deliver them over to death and to slaughter. For now have 
many evils passed over the round compass of the earth, A 
sword of fire is sent out against you, and who is he that 
shall restrain it ? shall any man repulse a lion that hungereth 
in the wood ? or shall any one quench out the fire when the 
straw is burning ? our Lord God will send out evils, and who 
is he that shall repress them ? and fire will pass forth from 
out of his wrath, and who shall extinguish it? it shall 
brandishing shine, and who will not fear it ? it shall thunder, 
and who will not shake with dread ? God will threaten all, 
and who will not be terrified ? before his face the earth 
doth tremble, and the foundations of the sea shake from the 

§ 61. And mark ye also what Ezechiel the renowned 
prophet, and admirable beholder of the four evangelical 

z 2 

$40 THE WORKS OF GILD AS. Lsct. 61. 

Creatures, speaketh of wicked offenders, unto whom pitifully 
lamenting beforehand the scourge that hung over Israel, our 
Lord doth say, " Too far hath the iniquity of the house of 
Israel and Judah prevailed, because the earth is filled with 
iniquity and uncleanness. Behold I am, mine eyes shall not 
spare, nor will I take pity." And afterwards, " Because the 
earth is replenished with people, and the city fraughted with 
iniquity, I will also turn away the force of their power, and 
their holy things shall be polluted, prayer shall approach and 
sue for peace, and it shall not be obtained." And somewhat 
after, " The word of our Lord, quoth he, was spoken unto me, 
saying, Thou son of man, the land that shall so far sin against 
me as to commit an offence, I will stretch forth my hand upon 
her, and break in pieces her foundation of bread, and send 
upon her famine, and take away mankind and cattle from her; 
and if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, be in the 
midst of her, they shall not deliver her, but they in their 
justice shall be saved, saith our Lord. If so be that also I 
shall bring in evil beasts upon the land and punish her, she 
likewise shall be turned to destruction, and there shall not be 
one who shall have free passage from the face of the beasts, 
and although these three men are in the midst of her, as I 
live, saith our Lord, their sons and daughters shall not be 
preserved, but they alone shall be saved, and as for the land 
it shall fall to confusion." And again, " The son shall not 
receive the unrighteousness of the father, neither the father 
the son's unrighteousness. The justice of the just shall be 
upon himself. And the unjust man, if he turneth him away 
from all the iniquities which he hath done, and keepeth all 
my commandments, and doth justice and abundance of mercy, 
he shall live in life and shall not die. All his sins, whatsoever 
he hath committed, shall have no further being ; he shall live 
the life in his own justice which he hath performed. Do I 
with my will voluntarily wish the death of the unrighteous, 
saith our Lord, rather than that he should return from his 
evil way and live ? But when the just shall turn himself 
away from his justice, and do iniquity, according to all the 
iniquities which the unrighteous hath committed, all the just 
actions (which he hath done) shall remain no further in 
memory. In his offence wherein he hath fallen, and in hiA 
sins in which he hath transgressed, he shall die." And, 

nc. 6X] SOLOMON. 341 

within some words afterwaids : "And all nations shall 
understand, that the house of Israel are led captive away 
for their offences, because they have forsaken me. And I 
have turned my face from them, and yielded them over into 
the hands of their enemies, and all have perished by the 
sword ; according unto their unclean sins, and after their 
iniquities have I dealt with them, and turned my face away 
from them." 

§ 62. This which I have spoken may suffice concerning 
the threats of the holy prophets : only I have thought it 
necessary to intermingle in this little work of mine, not only 
these menaces, but also a few words borrowed out of the 
wisdom of Solomon, to declare unto kings matters of exhor- 
tation or instruction, that they may not say I am willing to 
load the shoulders of men with heavy and insupportable 
burdens of words, but not so much as once with mine own 
finger (that is, with speech of consolation) to move the same. 
Let us therefore hear what the prophet hath spoken to rule 
us. " Love justice," saith he, "ye that judge the earth." This 
testimony alone (if it were with a full and perfect heart 
observed) would abundantly suffice to reform the governors 
of our country. For if they had loved justice, they would 
also love God, who is in a sort the fountain and original of 
all justice. " Serve our Lord in goodness, and seek him in 
simplicity of heart." Alas ! who shall live (as a certain one 
before us hath said) when such things are done by our 
countrymen, if perchance they may be any where accom- 
plished ? " Because he is found of those who do not tempt 
him, he appeareth truly to them who have faith in him." 
For these men without respect do tempt God, whose com- 
mandments with stubborn despite they contemn, neither yet 
do they keep to him their faith, unto whose oracles be they 
pleasing, or somewhat severe, they turn their backs and not 
their faces. " For perverse thoughts do separate from God," 
and this in the tyrants of our time very plainly appeareth. 
But why doth our meanness intermeddle in this so manifest 
a determination ? Let therefore him who alone is true (as 
we have said) speak for us, I mean the Holy Ghost, of whom 
it is now pronounced, " The Holy Ghost verily will avoid 
the counterfeiting of discipline." And again, " Because the 
Spirit of God hath filled the globe of the earth." And after* 

842 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. [nc.«& 

wards (showing with an evident judgment the end of the 
evil and righteous) he saith, " How is the hope of the wicked 
as the down that is blown away with the wind, and as the 
smoke that with the blast is dispersed, and as the slender 
froth that with a storm is scattered, and as the memory of a 
guest who is a passenger of one day. But the just shall live 
for ever, and with God remaineth their reward, and their 
cogitation is with the Highest. Therefore shall they receive 
the kingdom of glory, and the crown of beauty from the 
hand of our Lord. Because with his right hand he wiH 
protect them, and with his holy arm defend them." For 
very far unlike in quality are the just and ungodly, as our 
Lord verily hath spoken, saying, "Them who honour me 
I will honour, and whoso despise me shall be of no 

§ 63. But let us pass over to the rest : " Hearken, (saith 
he) all ye kings, and understand ye ; learn, ye judges of the 
bounds of the earth, listen with your ears who keep multi- 
tudes in awe, and please yourselves in the troops of nation*. 
Because power is given unto you from God, and puissance 
•from the highest, who will examine your actions, and sift 
your thoughts. For that when ye were ministers of his 
kingdom, ye have not judged uprightly, nor kept the law of 
justice, nor yet walked according to his will. It shall 
dreadfully and suddenly appear unto you, that a most severe 
judgment shall be given on them who govern. For to the 
meaner is mercy granted, but the mighty. shall mightily 
sustain torments. For he shall have no respect of .persons, 
who is the ruler of all, nor yet shall he reverence the 
greatness of any one, because he himself hath made both 
small and great, and care alike he hath of all; but for the 
stronger is at hand a stronger affliction. Unto you therefore, 
O kings, are these my speeches, that you may learn wisdom, 
and not fall away from her. For whoso observeth what 
things are just shall be justified, and whoso learneth what 
things are holy, shall be sanctified." 

§ 64. Hitherto have we discoursed no less by the oracles 
of the prophets, than by her own speeches with the kings of 
our country, being willing they should know what the 
prophet hath spoken, saying, " As from the face of a serpent, 
so fly thou from sins : if thou shalt approach unto them they 

■ar-fff,65.J DEPRAVITY OF THK CLEBOT. 343 

will catch thee, their teeth are the teeth of a lion, such as 
bill the souls o~f men/' And again, " How mighty is the 
mercy of our Lord, and his forgiveness to such as turn unto 
him." And if we have not in us such apostolical zeal, that 
we may say, "I did verily desire to be anathematized by 
Christ for my brethren," notwithstanding that we may from 
the bottom of our hearts speak that prophetic saying, 
"Alas! that the soul perisheth." And again, "Let us 
search out our ways, and seek and return unto our Lord : let 
ns lift our hearts together with our hands to God in heaven. 19 
And also that of the apostle, " We covet that every one of 
you should be in the bowels of Christ." 

§ 65. And how willingly, as one tossed on the waves of 
the sea, and now arrived in a desired haven, would I in this 
place make an end (shame forbidding me further to proceed), 
did I not behold such great masses of evil deeds done 
against God by bishops or other priests, or clerks, yea some 
of our own order, whom as witnesses myself must of 
necessity first of all stone (according unto the law) with the 
hard blows of words, lest I should be otherwise reproved 
for partiality towards persons, and then afterwards the 
people (if as yet they keep their decrees) must pursue with 
their whole powers the same execution upon them, not to 
their corporal death, but to the death of their vices and their 
eternal life with God. Yet, as I before said, I crave pardon 
of them, whose lives I not only praise, but also prefer before 
all earthly treasure, and of the which, if it may be, yet 
before my death I desire and thirst to be a partaker : and so 
having both my sides defended with the double shields of 
saints, and by those means invincibly strengthened to sustain 
all that arise against me, arming moreover my head in place 
of a helmet with the help of our Lord, and being most 
assuredly protected with the sundry aids of the prophets, I 
will boldly proceed notwithstanding the stones of worldly 
rioters fly never so fast about me. 

§ 66. Britain hath priests, but they are unwise; very 
jiany that minister, but many of them impudent ; clerks she 
hath, but certain of them are deceitful raveners ; pastors (as 
they are called) but rather wolves prepared for the slaughter 
of souls (for they provide not for the good of the common 
people, but covet rather the gluttony of their own bellies)^ 


possessing the houses of the church, but obtaining them foi 
filthy lucre's sake ; instructing the laity, but showing withal 
most depraved examples, vices, and evil manners; seldom 
sacrificing, and seldom with clean hearts, standing at the 
altars; not correcting the commonality for their offences, 
while they commit the same sins themselves ; despising the 
commandments of Christ, and being careful with their 
whole hearts to fulfil their own lustful desires, some of them 
usurping with unclean feet the seat of the apostle Peter; 
but for the demerit of their covetousness falling down into 
the pestilent chair of the traitor Judas; detracting often, 
and seldom speaking truly ; hating verity as an open enemy, 
and favouring falsehoods, as their most beloved brethren ; 
looking on the just, the poor, and the impotent, with stem 
countenances, as if they were detested serpents, and reve- 
rencing the sinful rich men without any respect of shame, 
as if they were heavenly angels, preaching with their 
outward lips that alms are to be disbursed upon the needy, 
but of themselves not bestowing one halfpenny ; concealing 
the horrible sins of the people, and amplifying injuries 
offered unto themselves, as if they were done against our 
Saviour Christ ; expelling out of their houses their religious 
mother, perhaps, or sisters, and familiarly and indecently 
entertaining strange women, as if it were for some more 
secret office, or rather, to speak truly, though fondly (and 
yet not fondly to me, but to such as commit these matters), 
debasing themselves unto such bad creatures ; and after all 
these seeking rather ambitiously for ecclesiastical dignities, 
than for the kingdom of heaven; and defending after a 
tyrannical fashion their achieved preferments, nor even 
labouring with lawful manners, to adorn the same ; negligent 
and dull to listen to the precepts of the holy saints (if ever 
they did so much as once hear that which full often they 
ought to hear), but diligent and attentive to the plays and 
foolish fables of secular men, as if they were the very ways 
to life, which indeed are but the passages to death ; being 
hoarse, after the fashion of bulls, with the abundance of 
fatness, and miserably prompt to all unlawful actions; 
bearing their countenances arrogantly aloft, and having 
nevertheless their inward senses, with tormenting and 
gnawing consciences; depressed down to the bottom o» 


rather to the bottomless pit; glad at the gaining of one 
penny, and at the loss of the Kke value sad; slothful and 
dumb in the apostolical decrees (be it for ignorance or rather 
the burden of their offences), and stopping also the mouths 
of the learned, but singularly experienced in the deceitful 
shifts of worldly affairs ; and many of this sort and wicked 
conversation, violently intruding themselves into the pre 
ferments of the church ; yea, rather buying the same at a 
high rate, than being any way drawn thereunto, and more- 
over as unworthy wretches, wallowing, after the fashion of 
swine, in their old and unhappy puddle of intolerable 
wickedness, after they have attained unto the seat of the 
priesthood or episcopal dignity (who neither have been 
installed, or resident on the same), for usurping only the 
name of priesthood, they have not received the orders or 
apostolical preeminence ; but how can they who are not as 
yet fully instructed in faith, nor have done penance for their 
sins, be any way supposed meet and convenient to ascend 
unto any ecclesiastical degree (that I may not speak of the 
highest) which none but holy and perfect men, and followers 
of the apostles, and, to use the words of the teacher of the 
Gentiles, persons free from reprehension, can lawfully and 
without the foul offence of sacrilege undertake. 

§ 67. For what is so wicked and so sinful as after the ex- 
ample of Simon Magus (even if with other faults he had not 
been defiled before), for any man with earthly price to pur- 
chase the office of a bishop or priest, which with holiness 
and righteous life alone ought lawfully to be obtained ; but 
herein they do more wilfully and desperately err, in that 
they buy their deceitful and unprofitable ecclesiastical degrees, 
not of the apostles or their successors, but of tyrannical 
princes, and their father the devil ; yea, rather they raise 
this as a certain roof and covering of all offences, over the 
frame of their former serious life, that being protected under 
the shadow thereof, no man should lightly hereafter lay to 
their charge their old or new wickedness ; and hereupon they 
build their desires of covetousness and gluttony, for that 
being now the rulers of many they may more freely make 
havoc at their pleasure. For if truly any such offer of 
purchasing ecclesiastical promotions were made by these im- 
pudent sinners (I will not say with St. Peter), but to any 

846 THE WORKS Or QILDAS. jm 67. C& 

holy priest, or godly king, they would no doubt receive the 
same answer which their father Simon Magus had from the 
mouth of the apostle Peter, saying : " Thy money be with 
thee unto thy perdition." But, alas ! perhaps they who 
order and advance these ambitious aspirers, yea, they who 
rather throw them under foot, and for a blessing give them 
a cursing, whilst of sinners they make them not penitents 
(which were more consonant to reason), but sacrilegious and 
desperate offenders, and in a sort install Judas, that traitor 
to his Master, in the chair of Peter, and- Nicholas, the author 
of that foul heresy, in the seat of St. Stephen the martyr, it 
may be, at first obtained their own priesthood by the same, 
means, and therefore do not greatly dislike in their children, 
but rather respect the course, that they their fathers <Ji4 
before follow. And also, if finding resistance, in obtaining 
their dioceses at home, and some who severely renounce this 
chaffering of church-livings, they cannot there attain to such 
a precious pearl, then it doth not so much loath as delight 
them (after they have carefully sent their messengers before- 
hand) to cross the seas, and travel over most large countries, 
that so, in the end, yea even with the sale of their whole sub- 
stance, they may win and compass such a pomp, and such an 
incomparable glory, or to speak more truly, such a dirty and 
base deceit and illusion. And afterwards with great show and 
magnificent ostentation, or rather madness, returning back to 
their own native soil, they grow from stoutness to stateliness, 
and from being used to level their looks to the tops of the 
mountains, they now lift up their drowsy eyes into the air, 
even to the highest clouds, and as Novatus, that foul hog, 
and persecutor of our Lord's precious jewel, did once at 
Rome, so do these intrude themselves again into their own 
country, as creatures of a new mould, or rather as instru- 
ments of the devil, being even ready in this state and fashion 
to stretch out violently their hands (not so worthy of the 
holy altars as of the avenging flames of hell) upon Christ's 
most holy sacrifices. 

§ 68. What do you therefore, O unhappy people I .expect 
from such belly beasts ? (as the apostle calleth them). Shall 
your manners be amended by these, who not only do not 
apply theiT minds to any goodness, but according to the up* 
braiding of the prophet, labour also to deal wickedly ? Siial) 

6ue«9.] HELY, ABEL, EWOCH. 847 

ye be illuminated with such eyes as are cnly with greectin 
east on these things that lead headlong to vices (that is to 
say), to the gates of hell ? Nay truly, if according to the 
saying of our Saviour, ye flee not these most ravenous wolve8 
like those of Arabia, or avoid them as Lot, who ran most 
speedily from the fiery shower of Sodom up to the mountains, 
then, being blind and led by the blind, ye will both to- 
gether tumble down into the infernal ditch. 

§ 69. But some man perchance will objecting say, that all 
bishops or all priests (according to our former exception), 
are not so wickedly given, because they are not denied with 
the infamy of schism, pride, or unclean life, which neither 
we ourselves will deny, but albeit we know them to be chaste, 
and virtuous, yet will we briefly answer. 

What did it profit the high-priest Hely, that he alone did 
not violate the commandments of our Lord, in taking flesh 
with forks out of the pots, before the fat was offered onto 
God, while he was punished with the same revenge of death 
wherewith his sons were ? What one, I beseech you, of them, 
whose manners we have before sufficiently declared, hath 
been martyred like Abel, from malicious jealousy of his more 
acceptable sacrifice, which with the heavenly fire ascended 
up into the skies, since they fear the reproach even of an 
ordinary word ? Which of them " hath hated the counsel of 
the malicious, and not sat with the ungodly," so that of him 
as a prophet, the same might be verified which was said of 
Enoch, " Enoch walked with God and was not to be found? 
in the vanity (forsooth) of the whole world, as then leaving 
our Lord, and beginning to halt after idolatry ? Which of 
-them, like Noah in the time of the deluge, hath not admitted 
into the ark of salvation (which is the present church) any 
adversary unto God, that it may be most apparent that none 
but innocents or singular penitents, ought to remain in the 
house of our Lord ? Who is he that offering sacrifice like 
Melchisedeck, hath only blessed the conquerors, and them 
who with the number of three hundred (which was in the 
sacrament of the Trinity) delivering the just man, have over- 
thrown the deadly armies of the five kings, together with 
their vanquishing troops, and not coveted the goods of others ? 
Which of them hath like Abraham, at the commandment of 
God freely offered his own son on the altar to be slain, that 

848 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. [mc. t* 

he might accomplish a precept of Christ, agreeable to this 
saying, Thy right eye, if it cause thee to offend, ought to be 
pulled out ; and another of the prophet, That he is accursed 
who withholdeth his sword from shedding blood ? Who is he 
that like Joseph, hath rooted out of his heart the remem- 
brance of an offered injury ? Who is he that like Moses, 
speaking with our Lord in the mountain, and not there terri- 
fied with the sounding trumpets, hath in a figurative sense 
presented unto the incredulous people the two tables, and his 
horned face which they could not endure to see, but trem- 
bled to behold ? Which of them, praying for the offences of 
the people, has from the very bottom of his heart cried out, 
like unto him, saying : " O Lord this people hath committed 
a grievous sin, which if thou wilt forgive them, forgive it ; 
otherwise blot me guilty out of thy book ?" 

§ 70. Which of them, inflamed with the admirable zeal of 
God, hath courageously risen to punish fornication, curing 
without delay by the present medicine of penance, the affec- 
tion of filthy lust, lest the fire of the wrath of God should 
otherwise consume the people, as Fhineas the priest did, 
that by these means justice for ever might be reputed unto 
him ? Which of them hath in moral understanding imitated 
Joshua, the son of Nun, either for the utter rooting forth, 
even to the slaughter of the last and least of all, the seven 
nations out of the land of promise, or for the establishing of 
spiritual Israel in their places ? Which of them hath showed 
unto the people of God their final bounds beyond Jordan 
that it might be known what was suited to every tribe, in 
such sort as the aforenamed Fhineas and Jesus have wisely 
divided the land ? Who is he that to overthrow the innumer- 
able thousands of Gentiles, adversaries to the chosen people 
of God, hath, as another Jephtha, for a votive and propitia- 
tory sacrifice, slain his own daughter (by which is to be un- 
derstood his own proper will), imitating also therein the 
apostle, saying, " Not seeking what is profitable to me, but to 
many, that they may be saved ;* which daughter of his 
•met the conquerors with drums and dances, by which are 
to be understood the lustful desires of the flesh ? Which of 
them, that he might disorder, put to flight, and overthrow 
the camps of the proud Gentiles, by the number of three 
hundred, (being, as we before said, the mystery of the blessed 


Trinity,) and with his men holding in their hands those noble* 
sounding trumpets, (which are prophetical and apostolical 
senses, according as our Lord said to the prophet, " Exalt 
thy voice as a trumpet ;" and the psalmist of the apostles, 
" Their sound hath passed throughout the whole earth,") and 
bearing all those famous flagons shining in the night with 
that most glittering fiery light, (which are to be interpreted 
the bodies of saints joined to good works, and burning with 
the flame of the Holy Ghost, yea having, as the apostle 
writes, " This treasure in earthen vessels,") hath after hewing 
down the idolatrous grave (by which is morally meant dark 
and foul desire) marched on like Gideon, with an assured faith 
in the evident sign of the fleece, which to the Jews was void 
of the heavenly moisture, but to the Gentiles made wet with 
the dew of the Holy Ghost ? 

§ 71. Who is he among them that (earnestly wishing to 
die to this world, and live to Christ) hath, as another Samp- 
son, utterly cut off such innumerable luxurious banqueters 
of the Gentile, while they praised their gods, (by which is 
meant, while the senses of men extolled these earthly riches, 
according to the apostle speaking thus : " And covetousness, 
which is idolatry"), shaking with the power of both his arms 
the two pillars (by which are to be understood the wicked 
pleasures of the soul and body), by which the house of all 
worldly wickedness is in a sort compacted and underpropped ? 
Which of them, like Samuel, with prayers and the burnt 
sacrifice of a sucking lamb, hath driven away the fear of the 
Philistines, raised unexpected thunderclaps, and showering 
clouds, established without flattery a king, deposed him 
when he displeased God, and anointed another his better in 
his place and kingdom ; and when he shall give to the people 
his last farewell, shall appear like Samuel in this sort, saying, 
" Behold, I am ready, speak ye before our Lord and his 
anointed, whether I ever took away the ox or ass of any 
man, if I have falsely accused any one, if I have oppressed 
anybody, if I have received a bribe from the hands of any ?" 
Unto whom it was answered by the people, " Thou hast not 
wrongfully charged us, nor oppressed us, nor taken anything 
from the hands of any." Which of them, like the famous 
prophet Elias, who consumed with heavenly fire the hundred 
proud men, and preserved the fifty that humbled themselves ; 

S60 THE WORKS OF GIL DAS. l .msc. 73. 

and afterwards denounced without flattery or dissimulation, 
the impending death of the unjust king (that sought not the 
counsel of God by his prophets, but of the idol Accaron), 
hath utterly overthrown all the prophets of Baal (by which 
are meant the worldly senses ever bent, as we have already 
said, to envy and avarice), with the lightning sword (which 
is the word of God) ? And as the same Elias, moved with 
the zeal of God, after taking away the showers of rain from 
the land of the wicked, who were now shut up with famine 
in a strong prison, as it were of penury, for three years and 
six months, being himself ready to die for thirst in the 
desert, hath, complaining, said, "They have murdered, O 
Lord, thy prophets, and undermined thine altars, and I alone 
am left, and they seek my life ?" 

§ 72. Which of them, like Elisha, hath punished his 
dearly beloved disciple, if not with an everlasting leprosy, 
yet at least by abandoning him, if burdened too much with 
the weight of worldly covetousness for those very gifts 
which his master before (although very earnestly entreated 
thereto) had despised to receive ? And which of these 
among us hath like him revealed unto his servant, (who 
despaired of life, and on a sudden trembled at the warlike 
army of the enemies that besieged the city wherein he was), 
through the fervency of his prayers poured out unto God, 
those spiritual visions, so that he might behold a mountain 
replenished with a heavenly assisting army, of warlike cha- 
riots and horsemen, shining with fiery countenances, and that 
he might also believe that he was stronger to save, than the 
foe to hurt ? And which of them, like the above-named 
Elisha, with the touch of his body, being dead to the world, 
but living unto God, shall raise up another, whose fate had 
been different from his, namely, death to God, but life to his 
vices, so that instantly revived, he may yield humble thanks 
to Christ for his unexpected recovery from the hellish tor- 
ments of his mortal crimes? Which of them hath his lips 
purified and made clean with the fiery coals earned by the 
tongues of the cherubim, from off the altar, (that his sins 
may be wiped away with the humility of confession), as it is 
written of Esaias, by whose effectual prayers, together with 
the aid of the godly king Ezechias, a hundred fourscore and 
five thousand of the Assyrian army, through the stroke of 


one angel, without the least print of any appearing wound, 
were overthrown and slain ? Which of them, like blessed 
Jeremiah, for accomplishing the commandments of God, — for 
denouncing the threats thundered out from heaven, and for 
preaching the truth even to such as would not hear the same, 
hath suffered loathsome stinking prisons as momentary 
deaths ? And to be brief, what one of them (as the teacher 
of the Gentiles said) hath endured like the holy prophets to 
wander in mountains, in dens, and caves of the earth, to be 
stoned, to be sawn in sunder, and assailed with all kinds of 
death, for the name of our Lord ? 

§ 73. But why do we dwell in examples of the Old Tes- 
tament as if there were none in the New ? Let, therefore, 
those, who suppose they can, without any labour at all, under 
the naked pretence of the name of priesthood, enter this 
strait and narrow passage of Christian religion, hearken unto 
me while I recite and gather into one a few of the chiefest 
flowers out of the large and pleasant meadow of the saintly 
soldiers of the New Testament. Which of you (who rather 
sleep than lawfully sit in the chair of the priesthood), being 
east out of the council of the wicked, hath, after the stripes 
of sundry rods, like the holy apostles, from the bottom of his 
heart, given thanks to the blessed Trinity that he was found 
worthy to suffer disgrace for Christ's true deity ? What 
one, for the undoubted testimony of God, having his brains 
dashed out with the fuller's club, hath, like James the first, 
a bishop of the New Testament, suffered corporal death ? 
Which of you, like James the brother of John, has by the 
unjust prince been beheaded ? Who, like the first deacon 
and martyr of the gospel, (having but this only accusation, 
that he saw God, whom the wicked could not behold), has 
by ungodly hands been stoned to death ? What one of you, 
like the worthy keeper of the keys of the heavenly kingdom, 
has been nailed to the cross with his feet upward, in rever- 
ence for Christ, whom, no less in his death than in his life, 
he endeavoured to honour, and hath so breathed his last ? 
Which of you, for the confession of the true word of Christ, 
hath, like the vessel of election, and chosen teacher of the 
Gentiles, after suffering imprisonment and shipwreck, after 
the terrible scourges of whips, the continual dangers of seas, 
of thieves, of Gentiles, of Jews, and of false apostles, after 

352 THE WORKS OF G1LDAS. twc Ti- 

the labours of famine, fasting, and watching, after incessant 
care over all the churches, after his . trouble for such as 
scandalized, after his infirmity for the weak, after, his won- 
derful travels over almost the whole world in preaching the 
gospel of Christ, lost his head at last by the stroke of the 
descending sword ? w 

§ 74. Which of you, like the holy martyr Ignatius, bishop 
of the city of Antioch, hath after his miraculous actions in 
Christ, for testimony of him been torn by the jaws of lions, 
as he was once at Rome ? whose words, as he was led to his 
passion, when you shall helar (if ever your countenances 
were overcome with blushing), you will not only, in com- 
parison of him, esteem yourselves no priests, but not so much 
even as the meanest Christians ; for in the epistle which he 
sent to the church of Rome, he writeth thus ; " From Syria 
even unto Rome, I fight with beasts, by land and dea, being 
bound and chained unto ten leopards, I mean the soldiers 
appointed for my sustody, who for our benefit bestowed upon 
them become more cruel ; but I am the better instructed by 
their wickedness, neither yet am I in this justified; oh! 
when shall those beasts come the workers of my salvation, 
which are for me prepared ? when shall they be let loose at 
me ? when shall it be lawful for my carcass to enjoy them ? 
whom I do most earnestly wish to be eagerly enraged against 
me, and truly I will incite them to devour me ; moreover, I 
will humbly pray, lest perchance they should dread to touch 
my body (as in some others they have before done), yea also, 
if they hesitate, I will offer violence, I will force myself 
upon them. Pardon me, I beseech you, I know what is 
commodious for me, even now I begin to be the disciple of 
Christ ; let all envy, whether of human affection or spiritual 
wickedness cease, that I may endeavour to obtain Christ 
Jesus ; let fires, let crosses, let cruelty of beasts, let breaking 
of bones, and" rending of limbs, with all the pains of the 
whole body, and all the torments devised by the art of the 
devil, be together poured out on me alone, so that I may 
merit to attain unto Christ Jesus." Why do you behold 
these things with the sleepy eyes of your souls ? why do you 
hearken unto them with the deaf ears of your senses? 
Shake off, I beseech you, the dark and black mist of 
•lothfulness from your hearts, that so you may see the 


glorious light of truth and humility. A Christian, and he 
not mean, but a perfect one, and a priest not base, but one of 
the highest, a martyr of no ordinary sort, but one of the 
chiefest, saith : " Now I begin to be the disciple of Christ." 
And you, like the same Lucifer, who was thrown down out 
of hc-.iven, are puffed up with words, and not with power, 
and after a sort do chew under the tooth, and make pretence 
in your actions, as the author of this your wickedness hath 
thus expressed : " I will mount up into the heavens, and be 
like unto the Highest." And again : " I have digged and 
drunk water, and dried up with the steps of my feet all the 
rivers of the banks." You would more rightly have 
imitated him and hearkened unto his words, who is without 
doubt the most true example of all goodness and humility, 
saying by his prophet, "I am verily a worm and not a man, 
the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people." Oh 
unspeakable matter ! that he called himself " the reproach of 
men," when he washed away the reproaches of the whole 
world. And again in the gospel ; "lam not able to do any 
thing of myself," when at the same time he was co-eternal 
with the Father, coequal with the Holy Ghost, and con- 
substantial with both, and created, not by the help of 
another, but by his own almighty power, the heaven and 
earth, with all their inestimable ornaments ; and ye never- 
theless have arrogantly lifted up your voices, notwithstanding 
the prophet saith, "Why do earth and ashes swell with 
pride?" -^~~ """ 

§ 75. But let us return unto our subject. Which of you, 
I say, like Polycarp, the famous bishop of the church of 
Smyrna, that witness of Christ, hath courteously entertained 
as guests at his table, those who violently drew him out to 
be burned? and when for the charity which he did bear 
unto Christ, he was brought to the stake, said, " He who 
gave me grace to endure the torment of the fire, will 
likewise grant me without fastening of nails to bear the 
flames with patience." And now passing over in this my 
discourse the mighty armies of saints, I will yet touch on 
one only, for example's sake, Basil the bishop of Caesaria, 
who when he was thus by the unrighteous prince threatened 
that, unless he would on the next day be as the rest, defiled 
in the dirty dunghill of the Arian heresy, he should be put 

A A 

854 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. f «r% 7« 

to death, answered, as it is reported, " I will be to-morrow 
the same as to-day, and for thee, I do not wish thee to 
change thy determination ." And again, "Would that I 
had some worthy reward to bestow on him that would 
discharge Basil from the bands of this breathing bellows." 
Which one of you doth endeavour to daunt the menaces of 
tyrants, by inviolably keeping the rule of the apostolical 
■speech, which in all times and ages hath been observed by 
:all holy priests, to suppress the suggestion of men when they 
nought to draw them into wickedness, saying in this manner j 
" It behoveth us to obey God rather than men." 

§ 76. Wherefore after our accustomed manner, taking 
arefuge in the mercy of our Lord, and in the sentences of his 
holy prophets, that they on our behalf may now level the 
darts of their oracles at imperfect pastors (as before at 
tyrants), so that thereby they may receive compunction and 
be amended, let us see what manner of threats our Lord doth 
by his prophets utter against slothful and dishonest priests, 
and such as do not, both by examples and words, rightly 
instruct the people. For even Eli, the priest in Shilo, 
because he did not severely proceed, with a zeal worthy of 
<xod, in punishing his sons, when they contemned our Lord, 
but, as a • man overswayed with a fatherly affection, too 
mildly and remissly admonished them, was sentenced with 
this judgment by the prophet speaking unto him: "Thus 
saith our Lord ; I have manifestly showed myself unto the 
house of thy father, when they were the servants of Pharaoh 
in Egypt, and have chosen the house of thy father out of all 
the tribes of Israel, for a priesthood unto me." And a little 
after, " Why hast thou looked upon mine incense, and upon 
any sacrifice, with a dishonest eye ? and hast honoured thy 
-children more than me, that thou mightest bless them ftw\ 
the beginning in all sacrifices in my presence ? And i,< v o 
saith our Lord : Because whoever honoureth me I will Lnont 
him again ; and whoso maketh no account of me shaL be 
brought to nothing. Behold the days shall come, and I will 
destroy thy name, and the seed of thy father's house. And 
let this be to thee the sign, which shall fall upon thy two sons, 
Hophni and Phineas, in one day shall they both die by the 
sword of men." If thus therefore they shall suffer, who 
-aorrect them that are under their charge, with words only. 

«bo. 77, 78.] PROPHECY OF ISAIAS. 355 

and not with condign punishment, what shall become, of those 
who by offending exhort you, and! draw others unto wickedness ? 

§ 77. It is apparent also what befell unto the true prophet, 
who was sent from Judah to prophesy in Bethel, and 
forbidden to taste any meat in that place, after the sign 
which he foretold was fulfilled, and after he had restored to 
the wicked king his withered hand again, being deceived by 
another prophet, as he was termed, and so make to take but 
a little bread and water, his host speaking in this sort unto 
him : " Thus saith our Lord God : Because thou hast been 
disobedient to the mouth of our Lord, and hast not observed 
the precept which the Lord thy God hath commanded, and 
hast returned, and eaten bread, and drunk water in this 
place, in which I have charged thee that thou shouldest 
neither eat bread nor drink water, thy body shall not be 
buried in the sepulchre of thy forefathers. And so (saith 
the scripture) it came to pass, that after he had eaten bread 
and drunk water, he made ready his ass, and departed, and a 
lion found him in the way and slew him." 

§ 78. Hear ye also the holy prophet Isaias, how he 
speaketh of priests on this wise. " Woe be to the ungodly, 
may evil befall him ; for the reward of his hands shall light 
upon him. Her own exactors have spoiled my people, and 
women have borne sway over her. O my people, they who 
term thee blessed, themselves deceive thee, and destroy the 
way of thy footsteps. Our Lord standeth to judge, and 
standeth to judge the people. Our Lord will come unto 
judgment with the elders of the people and her princes. Ye 
have consumed my vine, the spoil of the poor is in your= 
house. Why do ye break in pieces my people, and grind the 
faces of the poor? saith our Lord of hosts." And also; 
"Woe be unto them who compose ungodly laws, and in their 
writing have written injustice, that they may oppress the 
poor in judgment, and work violence to the cause of the 
lowly of my people, that widows may be their prey, and they 
make spoil of the orphans ; what will ye do in the day of 
visitation and calamity approaching from afar off ? " And 
afterwards : " But these also in regard of wine have been 
ignorant, and in respect of drunkenness have wandered- 
astray ; the priests have not understood, because of drunken- 
ness, and have been swallowed up in wine, they have erred 

356 THE WORKS OF GELDAS. [uc.79. 

in drunkenness, they have not known him who seeth, they 
have been ignorant of judgment. For all table * are filled 
with the vomit of their uncleanness, in so much as there ia 
not any free place to be found." 

§ 79. "Hear therefore the word of our Lord, O ye 
deceivers, who bear authority over my people that is in 
Jerusalem. For ye have said, We have entered into a truce 
with death, and with hell we have made a covenant. The 
overflowing scourge when it shall pass forth shall not fall 
upon us, because we have placed falsehood for our hope, and 
by lying we have been defended." And somewhat after : 
" And hail shall overthrow the hope of lying, together with 
the defence. Waters sjiall overflow, and your truce with 
death shall be destroyed, and your covenant with hell shall 
not continue, when the overflowing scourge shall pass forth ; 
ye shall also be trodden under foot, whensoever it shall pass 
along through you, it shall sweep you away withal." And 
again : " And our Lord hath said : Because this people 
approacheth with their mouth, and with their lips glorify 
me, but their heart is far from me ; behold, therefore, I will 
cause this people to wonder by a great and stupendous 
miracle. For wisdom shall decay and fall away from her 
wise men, and the understanding of her sages shall be con- 
cealed. Woe be unto you that are profound in heart, to 
conceal counsel from our Lord, whose works are in darkness, 
and they say, who seeth us ? And who hath known us ? for 
this thought of yours is perverse." And afterwards : " Thus 
saith our Lord, Heaven is my seat, and the earth my foot- 
stool. What is this house that ye will erect unto me, and 
what place shall be found for my resting-place ? all these 
things hath my hand made, and these universally have been 
all created, saith our Lord. On whom truly shall I cast 
mine eye, but on the humble poor man, and the contrite 
in spirit, and him that dreadeth my speeches ? he that 
sacrificeth an ox, is as he that killeth a man ; he that 
slaughtereth a beast for sacrifice, is like 1dm who beateth 
out the brains of a dog ; he that offereth an oblation, is as> 
he that offereth the blood of a hog ; he that is mindful of 
frankincense, is as he that honoureth an idol : of all these 
things have they made choice in their ways, and in their 
ibominations hath their soul been delighted." 


§ 80. Hear also what Jeremy, that virgin prophet, speaketh 
nnto the unwise pastors in this sort : " Thus saith our Lord, 
What iniquity have your fathers found in me, because they 
have removed themselves far off from me, and walked after 
vanity, and are become vain ? " And again : " And entering 
in, ye have defiled my land, and made mine inheritance 
abomination. The priests have not said, Where is our Lord ? 
*nd the rulers of the law have not known me, and the pastors 
have dealt treacherously against me. Wherefore I will as 
yet contend in judgment with you, saith our Lord, and 
debate the matter with your children." And a little after- 
wards : " Astonishment and wonders have been wrought in 
the land. Prophets did preach lying, and priests did applaud 
with their hands, and my people have loved such matters. 
What therefore shall be done in her last and final ends r To 
whom shall I speak and make protestation that he may hear 
me ? Behold their ears are uncircumcised, and they cannot 
hear. Behold the word of our Lord is uttered unto them 
for their reproach, and they receive it not : because I will 
stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the earth, saith 
our Lord. For why, from the lesser even unto the greater, 
all study avarice, and from the prophet even unto the priest, 
all work deceit, and they cured the contrition of the daughter 
of my people, with ignominy, saying, Peace, peace, and peace 
there shall not be. Confounded they are, who have wrought 
abomination : but they are not with confusion confounded, 
and have not understood how to be ashamed. Wherefore 
they shall fall among those who are falling, in the time of 
their visitation shall they rush headlong down together, saith 
our Lord." And again : " All these princes of the declining 
sort, walking fraudulently, being brass and iron, are uni- 
versally corrupted, the blowing bellows have failed in the 
fire, the finer of metals in vain hath melted, their malicious 
acts are not consumed, call them refuse and reprobate 
silver, because our Lord hath thrown them away." And 
after a few words: " I am, I am, I have seen, saith our Lord. 
Go your ways to my place in Shilo, where my name hath 
inhabited from the beginning, and behold what I have done 
thereunto for the malice of my people Israel. And now 
because ye have wrought all these works, saith our Lord, 
and I have spoken unto you, arising in the morning, and 


talking, and yet ye have not heard me, and I have called 
you, and yet ye have not answered, I will so deal towards 
this house, wherein my name is now called upon, and wherein 
ye have confidence, and to this place which I have given unto 
you, and to your fathers, as I have done to Shilo, and I will 
cast you away from my countenance." 

§ 81. And again : "My children have departed from me, 
and have no abiding, and there is none who any more pitcheth 
my tent, and advanceth my pavilion : for the pastors have 
dealt fondly and not sought out our Lord. Wherefore they 
have not understood, and their flock hath been dispersed."' 
And a little after : " What is the matter that my beloved 
hath in my houses committed many offences ? shall the holy 
flesh take away thy maliciousness from thee, wherein thou 
hast glorified ? our Lord shall call thy name a plentiful, fair, 
fruitful, goodly olive ; at the sound of the speech a mighty 
fire hath been inflamed in her, and her orchards have been 
quite consumed therewith." And again : " Come ye to me, 
and be ye gathered together, all ye beasts of the earth, make 
haste to devour. Many pastors have thrown down my vine, 
they have trampled my part under foot, they have given over 
my portion which was well worthy to be desired, into a 
desert of solitariness." And again he speaketh : " Thus 
saith our Lord unto this people, which have loved to move 
their feet, and not rested, nor yet pleased our Lord ; now 
shall he remember their iniquities and visit their offences.. 
Prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, and 
there shall be no famine among you, but our Lord shall give 
true peace unto you in this place. And our Lord hath said 
unto me, The prophets do falsely foretell in my name ; I have 
not sent them, nor laid my commandment on them ; they 
prophesy unto you a lying vision, and divination together 
with deceitfulness, and the seducement of their own hearts. 
And therefore thus saith our Lord : In sword and famine 
shall those prophets be consumed ; and the people to whom 
♦hey have prophesied shall by means of the famine and sword 
be cast out into the streets of Jerusalem, and there shall be 
none to bury them." 

§ 82. And moreover : " Woe be to the pastors who de- 
stroy and rend in pieces the flock of my pasture, saith our 
Lord. Thus, therefore, saith our Lord God of Israel, unto 

8*3.83.] rROrilECi' OF JOEL.. iJ5d 

the pastors who guide my people, Ye have dispersed my 
Hock, and cast them forth, and not visited them. Behold I 
will visit upon you the malice of your endeavours, saith our. 
Lord. For the prophet and the priest are both defiled, and 
in my house have I found their evil, saith our Lord, and 
therefore shall their way be as a slippery place in the dark, 
for they shall be thrust forward, and fall down together 
therein, for I will bring evils upon them, the year of their 
visitation, saith our Lord. And in the prophets of Samaria 
I have seen foolishness, and they did prophesy in Baal, and 
deceived my people Israel, and in the prophets of Jerusalem, 
have I seen the like resemblance, adultery, and the way of 
lying, and they have comforted the hands of the vilest offen- 
ders, that every man may not be converted from his malice : 
they have been all made to me as Sodom, and the inhabit- 
ants thereof as those of Gomorrha. Thus, therefore, saith. 
our Lord to the prophets : Behold, I will give them wormwood 
for their food, and gall for their drink. For there hath passed 
from the prophet of Jerusalem pollution over the whole earth- 
Thus saith our Lord of hosts, Listen not to the words of pro- 
phets, who prophesy unto you, and deceive you, for thejr 
speak the vision of their own heart, and not from the mouth, 
of our Lord. For they say unto those who blaspheme me,. 
Our Lord hath spoken, peace shall be unto you ; and to all 
that walk in the wickedness of their own hearts, they have- 
said, evil shall not fall upon them. For who was present in 
the counsel of our Lord, and hath seen and heard his speech,, 
who hath considered of his word, and hearkened thereunto ? 
Behold, the whirlwind of the indignation of our Lord 
passeth out, and a tempest breaking forth, shall fall upon the- 
heads of the wicked ; the fury of our Lord shall not return, 
until the time that he worketh, and until he fulfilleth the 
cogitation of his heart. In the last days of all shall ye un- 
derstand his counsel'' 

§ 83. And little also do ye conceive and put in execu- 
tion that which the holy prophet Joel hath likewise spoken 
in admonishment of slothful priests, and lamentation of 
the people's suffering for their iniquities, saying :. "Awake, 
ye who are drunk, from your wine, and weep and bewail ye 
all, who have drunk wine even to drunkenness, because joy 
and delight are taken away from your mouths. Mourn, ye> 

860 THK WORKS OF GILDAS. fsifc 84, 3X 

priests, who serve the altar, because the fields have been 
made miserable. Let the earth mourn, because corn hath 
become miserable, and wine been dried up, oil diminished, 
and husbandmen withered away. Lament ye possessions, in 
regard of wheat and barley, because the vintage hath per- 
ished out of the field, the vine withered up, the figs dimin- 
ished ; the pomegranates, and palm, and apple, and all trees 
of the field are withered away, in respect that the children 
of men have confounded their joy." All which things are 
spiritually to be understood by you, that your souls may not 
wither away with so pestilent a famine, for want of the word* 
of God. And again, " Weep out ye priests, who serve our 
Lord, saying, Spare, O Lord, thy people, and give not over, 
thine inheritance unto reproach, and let not nations hold- 
dominion over them, that Gentiles may not say, Where is 
their God?" And yet ye yield not your ears unto these 
sayings, but admit of all matters by which the indignation 
of God's fury is more vehemently inflamed. 

§ 84. With diligence also attend ye what holy Hosea the 
prophet hath spoken unto priests of your behaviour. " Hear 
these words, O ye priests, and let the house of Israel, toge- 
ther with the king's house, mark them ; fasten ye them in 
your ears, for unto you pertaineth judgment, because ye are 
made an entangling snare to the espying watch, and as a net 
stretched over the toils which the followers of hunting have 

§ 85. To you also may this kind of alienation from our 
Lord be meant by the prophet Amos, saying, " I have hated 
and rejected your festival days, and I will not receive the 
savour in your solemn assemblies, because albeit ye offer 
your burnt sacrifices and hosts, I will not accept them, and 
I will not cast mine eye on the vows of your declaration. 
Take away from me the sound of your songs, and the psalm 
--of your organs I will not hear." For the famine of the- 
evangelical meat consuming, in your abundance of victuals, 
the very bowels of your souls, rageth violently within you, 
according as the aforesaid prophet hath foretold, saying,. 
"Behold, the days shall come, saith our Lord, and I will 
send out a famine upon the earth ; not the famine of bread, 
nor the thirst of water, but a famine in hearing the word 
of God, and the waters shall be moved from sea to sea, 


and they shall run over from the north even unto the east, 
seeking the word of our Lord, and shall not find it. w 

§ 86. Let holy Micah also pierce your ears, who like a 
heavenly trumpet soundeth loudly forth against the deceit- 
ful princes of the people, saying, " Hearken now ye princes 
of the house of Jacob, Is it not for you to know judgment, 
who hate goodness, and seek after mischief, who pluck their 
skins from off men, and their flesh from their bones ? Even 
as they have eaten the flesh of my people, and flayed their 
skins from them, broken their bones to pieces, and hewed 
them small as meat to the pot, they shall cry to God, and he 
will not hear them, and in that season turn his face away 
from them, even as they before have wickedly behaved them- 
selves in their inventions. Thus speaketh our Lord of the 
prophets who seduce my people, who bite with their teeth, 
and preach against them peace, and if a man giveth nothing 
to stop their mouths, they raise and sanctify a war upon 
him. Night shall therefore .be unto you in place of a 
vision, and darkness unto you in lieu of divination, and 
the sun shall set upon your prophets, and the day shall 
wax dark upon them, and seeing dreams they shall be 
confounded, and the diviners shall be derided, and they 
shail speak ill against all men, because there shall not be any 
one that will hear them, but that I myself shall do mine ut- 
termost and strongest endeavour in the spirit of our Lord, in 
judgment and in power, that I may declare unto the house 
of Jacob their impieties, and to Israel their offences. Heark- 
en, therefore, unto these words, ye captains of the house of 
Jacob, and ye remnants of the house of Israel, who abhor 
judgment, and overthrow all righteousness, who build up. 
Sion in blood, and Jerusalem in iniquities : her rulers did 
judge for rewards, and her priests answered for hire, and 
her prophets did for money divine, and rested on our Lord, 
saying, And is not the Lord among us ? Evils shall not fall 
upon us. For your cause, therefore, shall Sion be ploughed 
up as a field, and Jerusalem as the watch-house of a garden, 
and the mountain of the house as the place of a woody wil- 
derness." And after some words ensuing : " Woe is me for 
that I am become as he that gathereth stubble in the harvest, 
and a cluster of grapes in the vintage, when the principal 
branch is not left to be eaten. Woe is me that a soul hatb 

862 THK WORKS OF GIL! AS. Ira. 87, 8* 

perished through earthly actions, the reverence of sinners 
ariseth even with reverence from the earth, and he appeareth 
not that shall use correction among men. All contend 
in judgment for blood, and every one with tribulation 
afflicteth his neighbour, for mischief he prepareth his 

§ 87* Listen ye likewise how the famous prophet Zepha- 
niah debated also in times past, concerning your revellers 
(for he spake of Jerusalem, which is spiritually to be under- 
stood the church or the soul), saying, " O the city that was 
beautiful and set at liberty, the confiding dove liath not 
hearkened to the voice, nor yet entertained discipline, she 
hath not trusted in our Lord, and to her God she hath not 
approached." And he showeth the reason why, " Her prin- 
ces have been like unto roaring lions, her judges as wolves of 
Arabia did not leave towards the morning, her prophets 
carrying the spirit of a contemptuous despising man ; her 
priests did profane what was holy, and dealt wickedly in the 
lawj but our Lord is upright in the midst of his people, and 
in the morning he will not do injustice, in the morning will 
he give his judgment." 

§ 88. But hear ye also blessed Zachariah the prophet, in the 
word of God, admonishing you : " For thus saith our 
Almighty Lord, Judge ye righteous judgment, and work ye 
every one towards his brother mercy and pity, and hurt ye 
not through your power the widow, or orphan, or stranger, 
or poor man, and let not any man remember in his heart the 
malice of his brother ; and they have been stubborn not to 
observe these, and have yielded their backs to foolishness, and 
made heavy their ears that they might not hearken, and framed 
their hearts not to be persuaded that they might not listen to 
my law and words, which our Almighty Lord hath sent in his 
Spirit, through the hands of his former prophets, and mighty 
wrath hath been raised by our Almighty Lord." And again ; 
" Because they who have spoken, have spoken molestations, 
and diviners have uttered false visions and deceitful dreams, 
and given vain consolations ; in respect hereof they are made 
as dry as sheep, and are afflicted because no health was to be 
found ; my wrath is heaped upon the shepherds, and upon 
the lambs will I visit." And within a few words after: 
" The voice of lamenting pastors, because their greatness is 

ik.8!).] PROPHECY OF MALACB1. 363 

become miserable. The voice of roaring lions, because the 
fall of Jordan is become miserable : thus saith our Almighty 
Lord : They who possessed have murdered, and yet hath it 
not repented them, and they who sold them, have said, Our 
Lord is blessed and we have been enriched, and their pastors 
have suffered nothing concerning them. For which I will 
now bear no sparing hand over the inhabitants of the earth* 
saith our Lord." 

§ 89. Hear ye moreover what the holy prophet Malachi 
denounceth unto you, saying : " Ye priests who despise my 
name, and have said : Wherein do we despise thy name ? in 
offering on mine altar polluted bread : and ye have said, 
Wherein have we polluted it ? In that ye have said : The 
table of our Lord is as nothing, and have despised such things 
as have been placed thereon ; because if ye bring what is 
blind for an offering, is it not evil ? If ye set and apply what i» 
lame or languishing, is it not evil ? Offer therefore the same 
unto thy governor, if he will receive it, if he will accept of 
thy person, saith our Almighty Lord. And now do ye 
humbly pray before the countenance of your God, and 
earnestly beseech him (for in your hands have these things 
been committed) if happily he will accept of your persons, "" 
And again : "And out of your ravenous theft ye have 
brought in the lame and languishing, and brought it in as an 
offering. Shall I receive the same at your hands, saith our 
Lord ? Accursed is the deceitful man who hath in his flock 
one of the male kind, and yet making his vow offereth the 
feeble unto our Lord, because I am a mighty king, saith our 
Lord of hosts, and my name is terrible among the Gentiles. 
And now unto you appertaineth this commandment, O ye 
priests, if ye will not hear, and resolve in your hearts to yield 
glory unto my name, saith our Lord of hosts, I will send 
upon you poverty, and accurse your blessings, because ye 
have not settled these things on your hearts. Behold I will 
stretch out my arm over ye, and disperse upon your counte- 
nances the dung of your solemnities." But that ye may 
in the meantime, with more zeal prepare your organs anil 
instruments of mischief, to be converted into goodness, 
hearken ye (if there remain ever so little disposition to listen 
in your hearts) what he speaketh of a holy priest, saying : 
" My covenant of life and peace was with him (for histori* 

£64 THE WORKS OF GLLDAS. ibsc. 69, fll 

■cally he did speak of Levi and Moses) : I gave fear unto binn, 
and he was timorous of me, he dreaded before the countenance 
of my name ; the law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity 
was not found in his lips ; he walked with me in peace 
and equity, and turned many away from unrighteous- 
ness. For the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and 
from out of his mouth they shall require the law, because he 
is the Angel of our Lord of hosts." And now again he 
changeth his style, and ceaseth not to rebuke and reprove 
the unrighteous, saying : " Ye have departed from the way, 
and scandalized many in the law, and made void my cove- 
nant with Levi, saith our Lord of hosts. In regard whereof 
I: have also given you over as contemptible and abject among 
my people, according as ye have not observed my ways, and 
accepted countenance of men in the law. What^ is there 
not one Father of us all ? What, hath not one God created 
us ? Why therefore doth every one despise his brother ?" 
And again, " Behold our Lord of hosts will come, and who 
can conceive the day of his coming, and who shall endure to 
etand to behold him ? For he shall pass forth as a burning 
iire, and as the fuller's herb, and shall sit melting and trying 
silver, and ye shall purge the sons of Levi, and cleanse them 
as gold and as silver." And somewhat afterwards : " Your 
words have grown strong against me, saith our Lord, and ye 
have spoken thus : He is vain who serveth God, and what 
profit because we have kept his commandments, and walked 
sorrowfully before our Lord of hosts. We shall therefore 
now call the arrogant blessed, for because they are erected and 
builded up, while they work iniquity, they have tempted 
•God, and are made safe." 

§ 90. But hear ye also what Ezechiel the prophet hath 
spoken, saying, " Woe upon woe shall come, and messenger 
upon messenger shall be, and the vision shall be sought for 
•of the prophet, and the law shall perish from the priests, and 
counsel from the elders." And again : "Thus saith our 
Lord : In respect that your speeches are lying, and your 
divinations vain. For this cause, behold, I will come unto 
you, saith our Lord ; I will stretch out my hand on your 
prophets, who see lies, and them who speak vain things ; in 
the discipline of my people they shall not be, and in the 
Scripture of the house of Israel, they shall not be written, 

mc. 91.] PROPHECY OF EZECH1EL. 30$ 

and into the land of Israel they shall not enter, and ye shall 
know that I am the Lord, because they have seduced my 
people, saying, The peace of our Lord, and there is not the 
peace of our Lord. Here have they built the wall ; and they 
anointed it, and it shall fall." And within some words after- 
wards : " Woe be unto these who fashion pillows, apt for 
every elbow of the hand, and make Veils upon every head 
of all ages to the subversion of souls, and the souls of my 
people are subverted, and they possess their souls, and con- 
taminated me unto my people for a handful of barley, and a 
piece of bread to the slaughter of the souls, whom it be- 
hoved not to die, and to the delivery of the souls, that were 
not fit to live, while ye talk unto my people that listeneth 
after vain speeches." And afterwards : " Say, thou son of 
man, thou art earth which is not watered with rain, neither 
yet hath rain fallen upon thee in the day of wrath, in which' 
thy princes were in the midst of thee as roaring lions, raven- 
ing on their prey, devouring souls in their potent might, and 
receiving rewards, and thy widows were multiplied in the 
midst of thee, and her priests have despised my law, and 
defiled my holy things. Between holy and polluted, they did 
not distinguish, and divided not equally between the unclean 
and clean, and from my sabbaths they veiled their eyes, and 
in the midst of them they defiled." 

§ 91. And again: "And I sought among them a man of 
upright conversation, and one who should altogether stand 
before my face, to prevent the times that might fall upon the 
earth, that I should not in the end utterly, destroy it, and I 
found him not. And I poured out upon it, the whole design 
of my mind, in the fire of my wrath for the consuming of 
them : I repaid their ways on their heads, saith our Lord.'* 
And somewhat after: "And the word of our Lord was- 
spoken unto me, saying : O son of man, speak to the children 
of my people, and they shalt say unto them: The land 
whereupon I shall bring my sword, and the people of the 
land shall take some one man among them, and ordain him 
to be a watchman over them, and he shall espy the sword 
coming upon the land, and sound with his trumpet, and 
signify unto the people, whoso truly shall then hear the 
sound of the trumpet, and yet hearing shall not. beware: 
and the sword shall come and catch him, his blood shall light 

366 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. [sac. St 

upon his own head, because when he heard the sound of th* 
trumpet, he was not watchful, his blood shall be upon him, 
and this man, for that he hath preserved his own soul, hath 
delivered himself. But the watchman if he shall see the 
sword coming, and not give notice with his trumpet, and the 
people shall not be aware, and the sword coming shall take 
away a soul from among them, both the soul itself is caught 
a captive for her iniquities, and I will also require her blood 
at the hand of the watchman. And thou, O son of man, I 
have appointed thee a watchman over the house of Israel, 
and if thou shalt hear the word from out of my mouth, 
when I shall say to a sinner, Thou shalt die the death, and 
yet wilt not speak whereby the wicked may return from his 
way: both the unjust himself shall die in his iniquity, and 
truly I will require his blood also at thy hands. But if 
thou shalt forewarn the wicked of his way, that he may 
avoid the same, and he nevertheless will not withdraw 
himself from his course, this man shall die in his impiety, 
and thou hast preserved thine own soul." 

§ 92. And so let these few among a multitude of 
prophetical testimonies suffice, by which the pride or sloth 
of our stubborn priests may be repelled, to the end they 
may not suppose that we act rather of our own invention, 
but by the authority of the laws, and saints, denounce such 
threats against them. And now let us also behold what the 
trumpet of the gospel, sounding to the whole world, speaketh 
likewise to disordered priests; for as we have often said, 
this our discourse tendeth not to treat of them, who obtain 
lawfully the apostolical seat, and such as rightly and 
skilfully understand how to dispose of their spiritual food 
{in time convenient) unto their fellow servants, if yet at this 
time there remain any great number of these in this our 
country; but we only talk of ignorant and unexpert shepherds, 
who leave their flock, and feed on vain matters, and have 
not the words of a learned pastor. And therefore it is an 
evident token that he is not a lawful pastor, yea not an 
ordinary Christian, who rejecteth and denieth these sayings, 
which are not so much ours (who of ourselves are very little- 
worth), as the decrees of the Old and New Testament, even 
as one of ours right well doth say, a We do exceedingly 
desire that the enemies of the church should also, without 


any maimer of truce be our adversai ies : and that the 
friends and defenders thereof should not only be accounted 
our confederates, but also our fathers and governors." For 
let every one, with true examination, call his own conscience 
unto account, and so shall he easily find, whether according 
to true reason he possesseth his priestly chair or no. Let us- 
see, I say, what the Saviour and Creator of the world hath 
spoken. " Ye are," saith he, " the salt of the earth ; if that 
the salt vanisheth away, wherein shall it be salted? it 
prevaileth to no purpose any farther, but that it be cast out 
of doors, and trampled under the feet of men." 

§ 93. This only testimony might abundantly suffice to 
confute all such as are impudent ; but that it may be yet, by 
the words of Christ, more evidently proved with what 
intolerable bonds of crimes these false priests entangle and 
oppress themselves, some other sayings are also to be 
adjoined ; for it followeth : " Ye are the light of the world. 
A city placed on a mountain cannot be hid : neither do they 
light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but upon. a 
candlestick, that it may shine unto all who are in the house." 
What priest therefore of this fashion and time, who is sq 
possessed with the blindness of ignorance, doth, as the light 
of a most bright candle, shine with the lamp of learning and 
good works, in any house, to all that sit in the darksome 
night ? What one is so accounted a safe public and con- 
spicuous refuge, to all the children universally of the church, 
that he may be to his countrymen a defensible and strong 
city, situated on the top of a high mountain? Moreover, 
which one of them can accomplish one day together, that 
which followeth : " Let your light so shine before men, that 
they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who 
is in heaven :" since rather a certain most obscure cloud o{ 
theirs, and the black night of offences, hang over the island, 
in such a manner, that they all turn almost away from the 
righteous course, and make them to wander astray through 
unpassable and cumbersome paths of wickedness, and so 
their heavenly Father is not only by their works not magni-> 
fied, but also by the same intolerably blasphemed. These 
testimonies of holy scripture, which are either already citedj 
or hereafter to be intermixed in this epistle, I would gladly 


wish to interpret in some historical or moral sense, as far a* 
my meanness would allow. 

§ 94. But for fear lest this our little work should be 
immeasurably tedious unto those who despise, loathe, and 
disdain, not so much our speeches as God's sayings, I have 
already alleged, and mean hereafter to affirm these sentences 
plainly without any circumstance. And to proceed, within 
a few words after : " For whoever shall break one of the 
least of these commandments, and so instruct men, shall be 
called the least in the kingdom of heaven." And again: 
"Judge ye not that ye may not be judged; for in what 
judgment ye shall judge, ye shall be judged." And which, 
one, I pray you, of your company will regard this same that 
followeth : " But why dost thou see," saith he, " the mote in 
thy brother's eye, and considerest not the beam in thine own 
eye ? or how dost thou say to thy brother, suffer me to cast 
the mote out of thine eye, and behold the beam remaineth 
still in thine own eye?" Or this which follows: "Do not 
give what is holy to dogs, neither yet shall ye cast your 
pearls before swine, lest perchance they tread them under 
their feet, and turn again and rend you," which hath often 
befallen you. And, admonishing the people, that they should 
not by deceitful doctors, such as ye, be seduced, he saith : 
" Keep yourselves carefully fronr false prophets, who come 
unto you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous 
wolves : by their fruit shall ye know them. Do men gather 
grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? So every good tree 
beareth good fruit, and the evil, evil fruit." And somewhat 
afterward : " Not every one who saith unto me, Lord, Lord, 
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but whoso doeth the 
will of my Father that is in heaven, he shall enter into the 
kingdom of heaven." 

§ 95. And what shall then become of you, who, as the 
prophet hath said, believe God only with your lips, and do 
not adhere to him with your hearts ? And how do ye fulfil 
that which followeth : " Behold I send you forth as sheep in 
the midst of wolves?" Whereas you act quite contrariwise, 
and proceed as wolves against a flock of sheep : or the other 
following sentence : " Be ye wise as serpents and simple as 
doves?" since ye are only wise to bite others with your 
deadly mouths, and not, with the interposition of your whole 


body, to defend your head, which is Christ, whom with all 
the endeavours of your evil actions you tread under foot ; 
neither yet have ye the simplicity of doves, but the 
resemblance rather of the black crow, which taking her 
flight out of the ark, that is, the church of God, and finding 
the carrion of earthly pleasures, did never with a pure 
return back thither again. But let us look on the rest. 
4t Fear not," saith he* " them who kill the body, but are not 
able to slay the soul ; but fear him who can overthrow both 
soul and body in hell." Revolve in your minds which of 
these ye have performed? And what one of you is not 
wounded in the very secrets of his heart, by this testimony 
following, which our Saviour uttereth unto his apostles, of 
evil prelates, saying, " Do ye suffer them, the blind leaders 
of the blind, but if the blind be a guide to the blind, both 
shall fall into the ditch?" But the people doubtless whom 
ye have governed, or rather beguiled, have just occasion to 
listen hereunto. 

§ 96. Mark ye also the words of our Lord speaking unto 
his apostles, and to the people, which words likewise (as I 
hear) ye yourselves are not ashamed to pronounce often in 
public: "Upon the chair of Moses have the scribes and 
pharisees sat, observe ye therefore and accomplish all that 
they shall speak unto you, but do not according to their 
works. For they only speak, but of themselves do nothing." 
It is truly to priests a dangerous and superfluous doctrine, 
which is overclouded with sinful actions. "Woe be unto 
you, hypocrites, who shut up the kingdom of heaven before 
men, and neither yourselves enter in, nor yet suffer those 
that would to enter in." For ye shall with horrible pains be 
tormented, not only in respect of your great offences, which 
ye heap up for punishment in the world to come, but also in 
regard of those who daily perish through your bad example, 
whose blood in the day of judgment shall be required at 
your hands. 

Yield ye also diligent attention unto the misery, which the 
parable setteth before your eyes, that is spoken of the ser- 
vant, who saith in his heart, " My Lord delayeth his com- 
ing," and upon this occasion, perchance, " hath begun to 
•trike his fellow servants, eating and drinking with drunkards. 
The Lord of the same servant, therefore, saith he, will come 03 

H B 

970 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. *bc 97. M. 

a -day when be doth not expect him, and in an hour Whereof 
he is ignorant, and will divide him, away from his holy 
priests, and will place his portion with the hypocrites (that 
is, with them who under the pretence of priesthood do con- 
ceal much iniquity), affirming that there shall be weeping 
and gnashing of teeth ;" such as they have not experienced 
in this present life, either for the daily ruin of the children 
of our holy mother church, or for the desire of the kingdom 
of heaven. 

§ 97. But let us see what Paul, the true scholar of Christ, 
and master of the Gentiles, who is a mirror of every ecclesi- 
astical doctor, " Even as I am the disciple of Christ," speak* 
eth about a work of such importance in his first epistle on 
this wise : " Because when they have known God, they hare 
not magnified him as God, or given thanks unto him ; bat 
vanished in their own cogitations, and their foolish heart is 
blinded ; affirming themselves to be wise, they are made fools. r> 
Although this seemeth to be spoken unto the Gentiles, look into 
it notwithstanding, because it may conveniently be applied to 
the priests and people of this age. And after a few words, 
" Who have changed," saith he, "the truth of God into lying, 
and have reverenced and served the creature rather than the 
Creator, who is blessed for ever ; therefore hath God given 
them over unto passions of ignominy." And again, " And 
even as they have not approved themselves to have God in 
their knowledge, so God hath yielded them up to a reprobate 
sense, that they may do such things as are not convenient^ 
being replenished with all iniquity, malice, uncleanness of 
life, fornication, covetousness, naughtiness, full of envy, 
murder (i.e. of the souls of the people), contention, deceit, 
wickedness, backbiters, detractors, hateful to God, spiteful, 
proud, puffed up, devisers of mischief, disobedient to their 
parents, senseless, disordered, without mercy, without affec- 
tion, who, when they had known the justice of God, under- 
stood not that they who commit such things, are worthy of 

§ 98. And now what one of the aforesaid sort hath indeed 
been void of all these ? And if he were, yet perhaps ha 
may be caught in the sense of the ensuing sentence, wherein 
he saith : " Not only those who do these things, but those 
also who consent unto them," for none of tliem truly are free 

#«c. M, 100.] ST. VATjL S EPISTLES. 371 

from this wickedness. And afterwards, " But thou, accord- 
ing to thy hardness acd impenitent heart,- dost lay up for 
thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of 
the just judgment of God, who will yield unto every one 
according unto his works." And again, "For there is no- 
acceptation of persons with God. For whosoever have- 
offended without the law, shall also without the law perish $ 
whosoever have offended in the law, shall by the law be- 
judged. For the hearers of the law shall not with God be 
accounted just, but the doers of the law shall be justified." 
How severe a sentence shall they therefore sustain, who note 
only leave undone what they ought to accomplish, and for- 
■bear not what they are forbidden, but also flee away from> 
the very hearing of the word of God, as from a serpent,, 
though lightly sounding in their ears. 

- § 99. But let us pass over to that which followeth to this- 
effect : " What shall we therefore say, shall we continue- 
still in sin that grace may abound ? God forbid, for we who- 
are dead to sin, how shall we again live in the same ?" And 
somewhat afterwards, "Who shall separate- us," saith he, 
" from the love of Christ, tribulation, or distress, or persecu- 
tion, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword ? "~ 
What one, I pray you, of all yon, shall with such an 
affection be possessed in the inward secret of his heart, since 
ye do not only labour for achieving of piety, but also endure- 
many things for the working of impiety, and offending of 
Christ ? Or who hath respected this that followeth ? " Thfr 
night hath passed, and the day approached. Let us there- 
fore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour 
of light, even as in the day : let us honestly walk, not in. 
banqueting, and drunkenness, not in couches, and wanton- 
ness, not in contention, and emulation ; but put ye on our 
Lord Jesus Christ, and make no care to bestow your flesh in 

§ 100. And again, in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, 
he saith: "As a wise workmaster have I laid the foundation, 
another buildeth thereupon, but let every man consider how 
he buildeth thereon. For no other man can lay any other 
foundation besides that which is laid, even Christ Jesus* 
But if any man buildeth upon this, gold, and silver, precious 
tftones, hay, wood, stubble, every one's work shall be mani- 
li b 2 


fest ; for the day of our Lord shall declare the same, because 
it shall be revealed in fire, and the fire shall prove what 
every man's work is. If any man's work shall remain, all 
by the fire shall be adjudged. Whoso shall build thereupon, 
shall receive reward. If any man's work shall burn, he 
shall suffer detriment. Know ye not that ye are the temple 
of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ? But 
if any man violate the temple of God, God will destroy 
him." And again, " If any man seemeth to be wise among 
you in this world, let him be made a fool that he may be- 
come wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with 
God." And within a few words afterwards, " Your glorying 
is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven corrupteth the 
whole mass ? Purge ye, therefore, the old leaven that ye 
may be a new sprinkling." How shall the old leaven, which 
is sin, be purged away, that from day to day with your utter- 
most endeavours is increased? And yet again, "I have 
written unto you in mine epistle, that ye be not inter- 
mingled with fornicators, not truly the fornicators of 
this world, or the avaricious, ravenous, or idolatrous, 
otherwise ye ought to depart out of this world. But 
now have I written unto you, that ye be not intermingled, if 
any one is named a brother, and be a fornicator, or avari- 
cious, or an idolator, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or raven- 
ous, with such an one ye should not so much as eat." But a 
felon condemneth not his fellow thief for stealing, or other 
open robbery, whom he rather liketh, defendeth, and loveth, 
as a companion of his offence. 

§ 101. Also in his second epistle unto the Corinthians; 
" Having therefore," saith he, " this administration, according 
as we have obtained mercy, let us not fail, but let us cast 
•away the secrets of shame, not walking in subtility, nor yet 
corrupting the word of God," (that is, by evil example and 
flattery,) And in that which followeth, he thus discourseth 
of wicked teachers, saying : " For such false apostles are 
deceitful workmen, transfiguring themselves into the apostles 
of Christ. And no wonder : for Satan himself transfigureth 
himself into an angel of light. It is not much therefore if 
his ministers are transfigured as ministers of justice, whose 
end will be according unto their works." 

§ 102. Hear likewise what he speaketh unto the Epfae- 


sians ; and consider if ye find not your consciences attainted 
as culpable of this that followeth? where he denounceth 
thus : " I say and testify this in our Lord, that ye do not as 
now walk like the Gentiles in the vanity of their own sense, 
having their understanding obscured with darkness, alienated 
from the way of God, through ignorance, which remaineth 
in them in regard of the blindness of their heart, who 
despairing, have yielded themselves over to uncleanness of 
life, for the working of all filthiness and avarice. " And 
which of ye hath willingly fulfilled that which next ensueth ? 
" Therefore be ye not made unwise, but understanding what 
is the will of God, and be ye not drunk with wine, wherein 
there is riotousness, but be ye fulfilled with the Holy 

§ 103. Or that which he saith to the Thessalonians. 
" For neither have we been with you at any time in the 
speech of flattery, as yourselves do know; neither upon 
occasion of avarice, neither seeking to be glorified by men, 
neither by you, nor any others, when we might be honoured, 
as other apostles of Christ. But we have been made as 
little ones in the midst of you; or even as the nurse 
cherisheth her small tender children, so desiring you, we 
would very gladly deliver unto you, not only the gospel, but 
also our very lives." If in all things ye retained this 
affection of the apostle, then might ye be likewise assured, 
that ye lawfully possessed his chair. Or how have ye 
observed this that followeth ? " Ye know," saith he, " what 
precepts I have delivered unto you. This is the will of our 
Lord, your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication ; 
and that every one of you know how to possess his own 
vessel, in honour and sanctification, not in the passion of 
desire, like the Gentiles who are ignorant of God ; and that 
none of you do encroach upon or circumvent his brother in 
his business, because our Lord is the revenger of all these. 
For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto 
sanctification. Therefore whoso despiseth these, doth not 
despise man, but God." What one also among you hath 
advisedly and warily kept this that ensueth: "Mortify 
therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, 
uncleanness of life, lust, and evil concupiscence, for which 
the wrath of God hath come upon the children of diffidence?* 

374 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. [s«c. 104, 10* 

Ye perceive therefore upon what offences the wrath of God 
doth chiefly arise. 

§ 104. In which respect hear likewise what the same 
holy apostle, with a prophetical spirit, foretelleth of you, and 
fluch as yourselves, writing plainly in this sort to Timothy : 
"" For know you this, that in the last days there shall be 
•dangerous times at hand. For men shall be self-lovers, 
-covetous, puffed up, proud, blasphemous, disobedient to their 
parents, ungrateful, wicked, without * affection, incontinent, 
unmeek, without benignity, betrayers, froward, lofty, rather 
lovers of sensual pleasures, than of God, having a show of 
|>iety, but renouncing the virtue thereof." Avoid thou these 
men, even as the prophet saith: "I have hated the con- 
gregation of the malicious, and with the wicked I will not 
ait." And a little after, he uttereth that (which in our age 
we behold to increase), saying : " Ever learning, and never 
attaining unto the knowledge of truth ; for even as Jannes 
and Mambres resisted Moses, so do these also withstand the 
truth : men corrupted in mind, reprobate against faith, but 
they shall prosper no further ; for their folly shall be manifest 
•unto all, as theirs likewise was." 

§ 105. And evidently doth he also declare how priests in 
their office ought to behave themselves, writing thus to 
Titus : " Show thyself an example of good works, in 
learning, in integrity, in gravity, having thy word sound 
without offence, that he who standeth on the adverse part 
may be afraid, having no evil to speak of us." And moreover 
he saith unto Timothy, " Labour thou as a good soldier of 
•Christ Jesus ; no man fighting in God's quarrel entangleth 
himself in worldly business, that he may please him unto 
whom he hath approved himself; for whoso *triveth in the 
lists for the mastery, receiveth not the crown, unless he hath 
lawfully contended." This is his exhortation to the good. 
Other matter also which the same epistles contain, is a 
threatening advertisement to the wicked (such as yourselves, 
in the judgment of all understanding persons, appear to be). 
*' If any one," saith he, " teacheth otherwise, and doth not 
peaceably assent to the sound sayings of our Lord Jesua 
Christ, and that doctrine which is according to piety, he is 
proud, having no knowledge, but languishing about questions, 
and contentions of words, out of which do spring envies. 


debates, blasphemies, evil suspicions, conflicts of men 
corrupted in mind, who are deprived of truth, esteeming 
commodity to be piety." 

§ 106. But why in using these testimonies, here and 
there dispersed, are we any longer, as it were, tossed up and 
down in the silly boat of our simple understanding, on the 
waves of sundry interpretations ? We have now therefore 
at length thought it necessary to have recourse to those 
lessons,* which are gathered out of Holy Scriptures, to the 
end that they should not only be rehearsed, but also be 
assenting and assisting unto the benediction, wherewith the 
hands of priests, and others of inferior sacred orders, are 
first consecrated, and that thereby they may continually be 
warned never, by degenerating from their priestly dignity, 
to digress from the commandments, which are faithfully con- 
tained in the same ; so as it may be plain and apparent unto 
all, that everlasting torments are reserved for them, and that 
they are not priests, or the servants of God, who do not 
with their utmost power follow and fulfil the instructions 
and precepts. Wherefore let us hear what the prince of the 
apostles, Saint Peter, hath signified about this so weighty a 
matter, saying: "Blessed be God, and the Father of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, who through his mercy hath regenerated 
us into the hope of eternal life, by the resurrection of our 
Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, into an inheritance which 
can never corrupt, never wither, neither be defiled, preserved 
in heaven for you, who are kept in the virtue of God ;" why 
then do ye fondly violate such an inheritance, which is not 
as an earthly one, transitory, but immortal and eternal ? 
And somewhat afterwards : " For which cause be ye girded 
in the loins of your mind, sober, perfectly hoping in that 
grace which is offered to you in the revelation of Jesus 
Christ :" examine ye now the depths of your hearts, 
whether ye be sober and do perfectly preserve the grace of 
priesthood, which shall be duly discussed and decided in the 
revelation of our Lord. And again he saith : " As children 
of the benediction, not configuring yourselves to those 
former desires of your ignorance ; but according unto him 
who hath called you holy, be ye also holy in all conversation. 

* Gildas, in this and the following section, evidently alludes to th« 
Ordination Ritual of the Ancient British Church. 


For which cause it is written, Be ye holy, because I am 
holy." Which one of you, I pray, hath with his whole 
mind so pursued sanctity, that he hath earnestly hastened, as> 
much as in him lay, to fulfil the same ? But let us behold 
what in the second lesson of the same apostle is contained t 
"My dearest," saith he, "sanctify your souls lor the 
obedience of faith, through the Spirit, in charity, in brother- 
hood, loving one another out of a true heart perpetually, as- 
born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,, 
through the word of God, living and remaining for 

§ 107. These are truly the commandments of the apostle ? 
and read in the day of your ordination, to the end ye should 
inviolably observe the same, but they are not fulfilled by you 
in discretion and judgment, nay not so much as duly con- 
sidered or understood. And afterwards : " Laying therefore 
aside all malice, and all deceits, and dissemblings, envy, and 
detractions, as infants newly born, reasonable and without 
guile covet ye milk, that ye may thereby grow to salvation,, 
because our Lord is sweet." Consider ye also in your minds,, 
if these sayings which have sounded in your deaf ears have- 
not often likewise been trodden by you under foot : and 
again : " Ye truly are the chosen lineage, the royal priest- 
hood, the holy nation, the people for adoption, that ye may 
declare his virtues who hath called you out of darkness into 
his marvellous light." But truly by you are not only the 
virtues of God not declared and made more glorious, but also 
through your wicked examples are they (by such as have not 
perfect belief) despised. Ye have perchance at the same time 
likewise heard, what is read in the lesson of the Acts, on 
this wise : " Peter arising in the midst of the disciples said i 
Men and brethren, it is expedient that the Scripture be 
fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost hath by the mouth of David 
foretold of Judas." And a little after : " This man therefore 
purchased a field, of the reward of iniquity." This have ye 
heard with a careless or rather blockish heart, as though the 
reading thereof nothing at all appertained unto yourselves. 
What one of you (I pray you) doth not seek the field of the 
reward of iniquity ? For Judas robbed and pillaged the 
purse, and ye spoil and waste the sacred gifts and treasures 
<>f the church, together with the souls of her children. He 

•Kt. 108 J THE APOSTLE PAUL. 377 

went to the Jews to make a market of God, ye pass to the 
tyrants, and their father the devil, that ye may despise 
Christ. He set to sale the Saviour of the world for thirty 
pence, and you do so even for one poor half-penny. 

§ 108. What need many words ? The example of Mat* 
thias is apparently laid before you for your confusion, who 
was chosen into his place, not by his own proper will, but 
by the election of the holy apostles, or rather the judgment 
of Christ, whereat ye being blinded, do not perceive how far 
ye run astray from his merits, while ye fall wilfully and 
headlong into the manners and affection of Judas the traitor. 
It is therefore manifest that he who wittingly from his heart 
termeth you priests, is not himself a true and worthy Chris- 
tian. And now I will assuredly speak what I think : this 
reprehension might have been framed after a milder fashion, 
but what availeth it to touch only with the hand, or dress- 
with gentle ointment, that wound which with imposthumation 
or stinking corruption is now grown so horrible, that it 
requireth the searing iron, or the ordinary help of the fire, 
if happily by any means it may be cured, the diseased in the* 
meanwhile not seeking a medicine, and the physician much 
erring from a rightful remedy ? O ye enemies of God, and 
not priests ! O ye traders of wickedness, and not bishops T 
O ye betrayers, and not successors of the holy apostles ! O 
ye adversaries, and not servants of Christ ! Ye have certainly 
heard at the least, the sound of the words, which are in the 
second lesson taken out of the apostle Saint Paul, although 
ye have no way observed the admonitions and virtue of them, 
but even as statues (that neither see nor hear) stood that day 
at the altar, while both then, and continually since he hath 
thundered in your ears, saying: "Brethren, it is a faithful- 
speech, and worthy of all acceptance." He called it faithful 
and worthy, but ye have despised it as unfaithful and un- 
worthy. "If any man desireth a bishopric, he desireth a 
good work." Ye do mightily covet a bishopric in respect of 
avarice, but not for spiritual convenience and for the good 
work which is suitable to the place, ye want it. " It behoveth 
therefore such a one to be free from all cause of reprehension." 
At this saying we have more need to shed tears than utter 
words ; for it is as mucli as if the apostle had said, he ought 
to be of all others most free from occasion of rebuke. " The 

378 THE WORKS OF GILDAS. [mc 10* 

rusband of one wife," which is likewise so condemned among 
us, as if that word had never proceeded from him ; " Sober, 
wise ; " yea, which of ye hath once desired to have these 
virtues engrafted in lum, "using hospitality." For this, if 
perchance it hath been found among you, yet being neverthe- 
less rather done to purchase the favour of the people, than 
to accomplish the commandment, it is of no avail, our Lord 
and Saviour saying thus: "Verily, I say unto you, they have 
received their reward." Moreover, "A man adorned, not 
given to wine ; no fighter, but modest ; not contentious, not 
covetous : " O lamentable change ! O horrible contempt of 
the heavenly commandments ! And do ye not continually 
use the force of your words and actions, for the overthrowing 
or rather overwhelming of these, for whose defence and con- 
firmation, if need had required, ye ought to have suffered 
pains, yea, and to have lost your very lives. 

§ 109, But let us see what followeth : " Well governing," 
saith he, " his house, having his children subjected with all 
chastity." Imperfect therefore is the chastity of the parents, 
if the children be not also endued with the same. But how 
shall it be, where neither the father, nor the son, depraved 
by the example of his evil parent, is found to be chaste ? 
"But if any one knoweth not how to rule over his own 
house, how shall he employ his care over the church of 
God ? " These are the words, that with apparent effects, 
should be made good and approved. "Deacons in like 
manner, that they should be chaste, not doubled tongued, 
not overgiven to much wine, not followers of filthy gain, 
having the mystery of faith in a preconscience, and let these 
also be first approved, and so let them administer, having no 
offence." And now trembling truly to make any longer stay 
on these matters, I can for a conclusion affirm one thing 
certainly, which is, that all these are changed into contrary 
actions, in so much that clerks (which not without grief of 
heart, I here confess,) are shameless and deceitful in their 
speeches, given to drinking, covetous of filthy lucre, having 
faith (or to say more truly) unfaithfulness in an impure con- 
science, ministering not upon probation of their good works, 
but upon foreknowledge of their evil actions, and being thus 
defiled with innumerable offences, they are notwithstanding 
admitted unto the holy office ; ye have likewise heard on the 

sac 109.] THE APOSTLE PETER. 379 

same day (wherein ye should with Far more right and reason 
have been drawn to prison or punishment, than preferred 
unto priesthood) when our Lord demanded whom his disciples 
supposed him to be, how Peter answered, " Thou art Christ, 
the Son of the living God ;" and our Lord in respect of such 
his confession, said unto him : " Blessed art thou, Simon 
Bar-jonas, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto 
thee, but my Father who is in heaven." Peter therefore, 
instructed by God the Father, did rightly confess Christ ; 
but ye being taught by the devil your father, do, with your 
lewd actions, wickedly deny our Saviour. It is said to the 
true priest, " Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build 
my church : " but ye resembled " the foolish man, who hath 
builded his house upon the sand." And verily it is to be 
noted, that God joineth not in the workmanship with the 
unwise, when they build their house upon the deceitful 
uncertainty of the sands, according unto that saying : " They 
have made kings unto themselves, and not by me." Similarly 
that (which followeth) soundeth in like sort, speaking thus : 
"And the gates of hell (whereby infernal sins are to be 
understood) shall not prevail." But of your frail and deadly 
frame, mark what is pronounced : " The floods came, and the 
winds blew, and dashed upon that house and it fell, and great 
was the ruin thereof." To Peter and his successors, our 
Lord doth say, " And I will give unto thee the keys of the 
kingdom of heaven." But unto you, "I know you not, 
depart from me all ye workers of iniquity," that being 
separated with the goats of the left hand, ye may together 
with them go into eternal fire. It is also promised unto 
every good priest, "Whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, 
shall be likewise loosed in heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt 
bind upon earth, shall be in like sort bound in heaven." But 
how shall ye loose any thing, that it may be loosed also in 
heaven, since yourselves for your sins are severed from 
heaven, and hampered in the bands of your own heinous 
offences, as Solomon saith, "With the cords of his sins, 
every one is tied ? " And with what reason shall ye bind 
any thing on this earth, that above this world may be like- 
wise bound, unless it be your only selves, who, entangled in 
your iniquities, are so detained on this earth, that ye cannot 
tscend into heaven, but without your conversion unto our 


Lord in this life, will fall down into the miserable prison of 

§ 1 10. Neither yet let any priest flatter himself upon the 
knowledge of the particular cleanness of his own body, since 
their souls (over whom he hath government) shall in the day 
of judgment be required at his hands as the murderer of 
them, if any through his ignorance, sloth, or fawning adula- 
tion, have perished, because the stroke of death is not less 
terrible, that is given by a good man, than that which is in- 
flicted by an evil person ; otherwise would the apostle never 
have said that which he left unto his successors, as a fatherly 
legacy, "lam clear and clean from the blood of all : for I 
have not forborne to declare unto you all the counsel of 
God." Being therefore mightily drunken with the use and 
custom of sins, and extremely overwhelmed with the waves 
(as it were) of increasing offences, seek ye now forthwith the 
uttermost endeavours of your minds (after this your ship- 
wreck), that one plank of repentance which is left, whereby 
ye may escape and swim to the land of the living, that from 
you may be turned away the wrath of our Lord, who saith, 
" I will not the death of a sinner : but that he may be con - 
verted and live." And may the same Almighty God, of all 
consolation and mercy, preserve his few good pastors from 
all evil, and (the common enemy being overcome) make them 
free inhabitants of the heavenly city of Jerusalem, which is 
the congregation of all saints ; grant this, O Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost, to whom be honour and glory, world with- 
out end. Amen. 




§ 1. Nennius, the lowly minister and servant of the ser- 
vants of God, by the grace of God, disciple of St Elbotus,* 
to all the followers of truth sendeth health. 

Be it known to your charity, that being dull in intellect 
and rude of speech, I have presumed to deliver these things 
in the Latin tongue, not trusting to my own learning, which 
is little or none at all, but partly from traditions of our an- 
cestors, partly from writings and monuments of the ancient 
inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans, 
and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymus, 
Prosper, Eusebius, and from the histories of the Scots and 
Saxons, although our enemies, not following my own inclina- 
tions, but, to the best of my ability, obeying the commands 
of my seniors ; I have lispingly put together this history 
from various sources, and have endeavoured, from shame, to 
deliver down to posterity the few remaining ears of corn 
about past transactions, that they might not be trodden under 
foot, seeing that an ample crop has been snatched away 
already by the hostile reapers of foreign nations. For many 
things have been in my way, and I, to this day, have hardly 
been able to understand, even superficially, as was necessary, 
the sayings of other men; much less was I able in my 
own strength, but like a barbarian, have I murdered and 
defiled the language of others. But I bore about with 
me an inward wound, and I was indignant, that the name 
of my own people, formerly famous and distinguished, 
should sink into oblivion, and like smoke be dissipated. 
But since, however, I had rather myself be the historian 
of the Britons than nobody, although so many are to be 

* Or Elvod, bishop of Bangor, a.d. 755, who fint adopted in the Cam- 
brian church the new cycle for regulating E tster. 


found who might much more satisfactorily discharge the 
labour thus imposed on me ; I humbly entreat my readers, 
whose ears I may offend by the inelegance of my words, that 
they will fulfil the wish of my seniors, and grant me the 
easy task of listening with candour to my history. For 
zealous efforts very often fail : but bold enthusiasm, were it 
in its power, would not suffer me to fail. May, therefore, 
candour be shown where the inelegance of my words is in- 
sufficient, and may the truth of this history, which my rustic 
tongue has ventured, as a kind of plough, to trace out in 
furrows, lose none of its influence from that cause, in the 
ears of my hearers. For it is better to drink a wholesome 
draught of truth from a humble vessel, than poison mixed 
with honey from a golden goblet. 

§ 2. And do not be loath, diligent reader, to winnow my 
chaff, and lay up the wheat in the storehouse of your memory : 
for truth regards not who is the speaker, nor in what manner 
it is spoken, but that the thing be true ; and she does not 
despise the jewel which she has rescued from the mud, but 
she adds it to her former treasures. 

For I yield to those who are greater and more eloquent 
than myself, who, kindled with generous ardour, have en- 
deavoured by Roman eloquence to smooth the jarring ele- 
ments of their tongue, if they have left unshaken any pillar 
of history which I wished to see remain. This history 
therefore has been compiled from a wish to benefit my infe- 
riors, not from envy of those who are superior to me, in the 
858th year of our Lord's incarnation, and in the 24th year 
of Mervin, king of the Britons, and I hope that the prayers 
of my betters will be offered up for me in recompence of my 
labour. But this is sufficient by way of preface. I shall 
obediently accomplish the rest to the utmost of my power. 


Here begins the apology of Nennius, the historiographer 
of the Britons, of the race of the Britons. 

§ 3. 1, Nennius, disciple of St. Elbotus, have endeavoured to 
write some extracts which the dulness of the British nation 
had cast away, because teachers had no knowledge, nor gave 
any infoimation in their books about this island of Britain 


But I hive got together all that I could find as well from the 
annals of the Romans as from the chronicles of the sacred 
fathers, Hieronymus, Eusebius, Isidorus, Prosper, and from 
the annals of the Scots and Saxons, and from our ancient 
traditions. Many teachers and scribes have attempted to 
write this, but somehow or other have abandoned it from its 
difficulty, either on account of frequent deaths, or the often 
recurring calamities of war. I pray that every reader who 
shall read this book, may pardon me, for having attempted, 
like a chattering jay, or like some weak witness, to write 
these things, after they had failed. I ;field to him who knows 
more of these things than I do. 


§ 4, 5. From Adam to the flood, are two thousand and 
forty-two years. From the flood to Abraham, nine hundred 
and forty-two. From Abraham to Moses, six hundred.* 
From Moses to Solomon, and the first building of the tem- 
ple, four hundred and forty-eight. From Solomon to the 
rebuilding of the temple, which was under Darius, king of 
the Persians, six hundred and twelve years are computed. 
From Darius to the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, and 
to the fifteenth year of the emperor Tiberius, are five hun- 
dred and forty-eight years. So that from Adam to the 
ministry of Christ and the fifteenth year of the emperor 
Tiberius, are five thousand two hundred and twenty-eight 
years. From the passion of Christ are completed nine hun- 
dred and forty-six ; from his incarnation, nine hundred and 
seventy-six: being the fifth year of Edmund, king of the 

§ 6. The first age of the world is from Adam to Noah ; 
the second from Noah to Abraham ; the third from Abraham 
to David ; the fourth from David to Daniel ; the fifth to John 
the Baptist; the sixth from John to the judgment, when our 
Lord Jesus Christ will come to judge the living and the 
dead, and the world by fire. 

The first Julius. The second Claudius. The third Se 

* And forty, according to Stevenson's new edition. The rest of this 
chronology is much contracted in several of the manuscripts, and hardly 
two of them contain it exactly the same. 

C O 



rearm. The fourth Carinas. The fifth Constantins. - The 
sixth Maximue. - The seventh Maximianus. The eighth 
another Severus iEquantius. The ninth Constantius.* 

Here beginneth the history of the Britons, edited by 
Mark the anchorite, a holy bishop of that people. 

§ 7. The island of Britain derives its name from Brutus, a 
Roman consuL Taken from the south-west point it inclines 
a little towards the west, and to its northern extremity mea- 
sures eight hundred miles, and is in breadth two hundred 
It contains thirty-three cities, f viz. 

1. Cair ebrauc ( Torku 

2. Cair ceint [Canterbury). 

3. Cair gurcoc {Anglesey ?) 

4. Cair guorthegern4 

5. Cair cuateint (Carnarvon). 

6. Cair guoranegon ( Worcester). 

7. Cair segeint (SUchester). 

8. Cair gain truis (Norwich, or Win- 


9. Cair merdin (CaernuxrUien). 

10. Cair peris (Porchester). 

11. Cair lion (Caerleonrupon-Usk). 

12. Cair mencipit (Verulam). 

13. Cair oarataac (Catterick). 

14. Cair ceri (Cirencrster). 
Iff. Cairgloui {Gloucester). 

16. Cair luilid (Carlisle). 

17. Cair grant (Grantchester, now Gain- 


18. Cair daun (Doncaster), or Cair dauri 


19. Cair britoc (Bristol). 

20. Cair meguald (Meivod). 

21. Cair mauiguid (Manchester), 

22. Cair ligion (Cluster). 

23. Cair guent ( Winchester, or Caerwnt, 

in Monmouthshire'. 

24. Cair col Ion (Colchester, or St. Colon* 


25. Cairlondein (London*. 

26. Cairguorcon (Worren, or Woran, 

in Pembrokethire. 

27. Cair lerion (Leicester). 

28. Cair draithou (Drayton). 

29. Cair pensavelooit (Pevens y, in Sus- 


30. Cair teira (TeyrirGrace, in Devonsltire). 

31. Cair Urnaho ( Wroxeter, in Shroi>- 


32. Cair eclemion (OamaUt, in Soiner- 


33. Cair loit ooit (Liwooln). 

These are the names of the ancient cities of the island of 
Britain. It has also a vast many promontories, and castles 
innumerable, built of brick and stone. Its inhabitants con- 
sist of four different people ; the Scots, the Picts, the Saxons, 
and the ancient Britons. 

§ 8. Three considerable islands belong to it ; one, on the 
south, opposite the Armorican shore, called Wight j§ an- 
other between Ireland and Britain, called Eubonia or Man; 
and another directly north, beyond the Picts, named Orkney ; 

* This list of the Roman emperors who visited Britain, is omitted in 
many of the MSS. t V. R. Twenty-eight, twenty-one, 

1 Site unknown. See note at sec. 42, p. 404. $ Inis-g jeith, or Gywtb. 


and hence it was anciently a proverbial expression, in refer* 
ence to its kings and rulers, " He reigned over Britain and 
its three islands." 

§ 9. It is fertilized by several rivers, which traverse it in 
all directions, to the east and west, to the south and north; 
but there -are two pre-eminently distinguished among the 
rest, the Thames and the Severn, which formerly, like the 
two arms of Britain, bore the ships employed in the convey* 
ance of the riches acquired by commerce. The Britons were 
once very populous, and exercised extensive dominion from 
sea to sea. 

§ 10.* Respecting the period when this island became in- 
habited subsequently to the flood, I have seen two distinct 
relations. According to the annals of the Roman history, 
the Britons deduce their origin both from the Greeks and 
Romans. On the side of the mother, from Lavinia, the 
daughter of Latinus, king of Italy, and of the race of Silva- 
nus, the son of Inachus, the son of Dardanus ; who was the 
son of Saturn, king of the Greeks, and who, having pos- 
sessed himself of a part of Asia, built the city of Troy. 
Dardanus was the father of Troius, who was the father of 
Priam and Anchises; Anchises was the father of jEneas, 
who was the father of Ascanius and Silvius ; and this Sil- 
vius was the son of iEneas and Lavinia, the daughter of the 
king of Italy. From the sons of JEneas and Lavinia de- 
scended Romulus and Remus, who were the sons of the holy 
queen Rhea, and the founders of Rome. Brutus was consul 
when he conquered Spain, and reduced that country to a 
Roman province. He afterwards subdued the island of 
Britain, whose inhabitants were the descendants of the 
Romans, from Silvius Posthumus. He was called Posthu- 
mus because he was born after the death of jEneas his father ; 
and his mother Lavinia concealed herself during her preg- 
nancy ; he was called Silvius, because he was born in a wood. 
Hence the Roman kings were called Silvan, and the Britons 
who sprang from him ; but they were called Britons from 
Brutus, and rose from the family of Brutus. 

JEneas, after the Trojan war, arrived with his son in Italy ; 
and having vanquished Turnus, married Lavinia, the daugh- 

* The whole of this, as far as the end of the paragraph, is omitted i» 



ter of king Latinus, who was the son of Faunus, the son <rf 
Picus, the son of Saturn. After the death of Latinus, JEneas 
obtained the kingdom of the Romans, and Lavinia brought 
forth a son, who was named Silvius. Ascanius founded 
Alba, and afterwards married. And Lavinia bore to JEneas 
a son, named Silvius ; but Ascanius* married a wife, who 
conceived and became pregnant. And JEneas, having been 
informed that his daughter-in-law was pregnant, ordered his 
son to send his magician to examine his wife, whether the child 
conceived were male or female. The magician came and ex- 
amined the wife and pronounced it to be a son, who should 
become the most valiant among the Italians, and the most 
beloved of all men.*)* In consequence of this prediction, the 
magician was put to death by Ascanius ; but it happened 
that the mother of the child dying at its birth, he was named 
Brutus ; and after a certain interval, agreeably to what the 
magician had foretold, whilst he was playing with some 
others he shot his father with an arrow, not intentionally but 
by accident.} He was, for this cause, expelled from Italy, 
and came to the islands of the Tyrrhene sea, when he was 
exiled on account of the death of Turnus, slain by JEneas. 
He then went among the Gauls, and built the city of the 
Turones, called Turnis.§ At length he came to this island, 
named from him Britannia, dwelt there, and filled it with his 
•own descendants, and it has been inhabited from that time to 
the present period. 

§ 11. tineas reigned over the Latins three years; Asca- 
nius thirty-three years ; after whom Silvius reigned twelve 
years, and Posthumus thirty-nine || years: the latter, from 
whom the kings of Alba are called Silvan, was brother to 
Brutus, who governed Britain at the time Eli the high-priest 
judged Israel, and when the ark of the covenant was taken 
by a foreign people. But Posthumus his brother reigned 
among the Latins. 

§ 12. After an interval of not less than eight hundred 
years, came the Picts, and occupied the Orkney Islands: 
whence they laid waste many regions, and seized those on 

* Other MSS. Silvius. + V. R. Who should riay his father and 

mother, and be hated by all mankind. 

2 V. K. He displayed such superiority among his piay-feilows,tn<i' •*■•.*« 
seen;,--" to consider mir. as theii chief. $ Tours. || V. R. Thirtr-sereE, 


the loft hand side of Britain, where they still remain, keep- 
ing possession of a third part of Britain to this day.* 

§ 13. Long after this, the Scots arrived in Ireland from 
Spain. The first that came was Partholomus,*)' with a 
thousand men and women ; these increased to four thousand ; 
but a mortality coming suddenly upon them, they all 
perished in one week. The second was Nimech, the son of 

,$ who, according to report, after having been at 

sea a year and a half, and having his ships shattered, arrived 
at a port in Ireland, and continuing there several years, 
returned at length with his followers to Spain. After 
these came three sons of a Spanish soldier with thirty ships, 
each of which contained thirty wives ; and having remained 
there during the space of a year, there appeared to them, in 
the middle of the sea, a tower of glass, the summit of 
which seemed covered with men, to whom they often spoke, 
but received no answer. At length they determined to 
besiege the tower ; and after a year's preparation, advanced 
towards it, with the whole number of their ships, and all 
the women, one ship only excepted, which had been 
wrecked, and in which were thirty men, and as many 
women ; but when all had disembarked on the shore which 
surrounded the tower, the sea opened and swallowed them 
up. Ireland, however, was peopled, to the present period, 
from the family remaining in the vessel which was wrecked. 
Afterwards, others came from Spain, and possessed them- 
selves of various parts of Britain. 

§ 14. Last of all came one Hoctor,§ who continued there, 
and whose descendants remain there to this day. Istoreth, 
the son of Istorinus, with his followers, held Dalrieta ; Builc 
had the island Eubonia, and other adjacent places. The 
sons of Liethali || obtained the country of the Dimetse, where 
is a city called Menavia,T and the province Guiher and 
Cetgueli,** which they held till they were expelled from 
every part of Britain, by Cunedda and his sons. 

* See Bede's Eccles. Hist. pp. 5, 6, note. 
+ V. R. Partholomsus, or Bartholomaeus. 

X A blank is here in the MS. Agnomen is found in some of the others* 
§ V. R. Damhoctor, Clamhoctor, and Elamhoctor. • 
|| V. R. Liethan, Bethan, Vethan. 1 St. David's. 

* * Guiher, probably the Welsh district Gower. Cetgueli is Caer Kid- 
wellr, in Carmarthenshire. 


— %- 15. Accoiding to the most learned among the Scots, if 
any one desires to learn what I am now going to state, 
Ireland was a desert, and uninhabited, when the children of 
Israel crossed the Red Sea, in which, as we read in the 
Book of the Law, the Egyptians who followed them were 
drowned. At that period, there lived among this people, 
with a numerous family, a Scythian of noble birth, who had 
been banished from his country, and did not go to pursue 
the people of God. The Egyptians who were left, seeing 
the destruction of the great men of their nation, and fearing 
lest he should possess himself of their territory, took counsel 
together, and expelled him. Thus reduced, he wandered 
forty-two years in Africa, and arrived, with his family, at 
the altars of the Philistines, by the Lake of Osiers. Then 
passing between Rusicada and the hilly country of Syria, 
they travelled by the river Malva through Mauritania as far 
as the Pillars of Hercules ; and crossing the Tyrrhene Sea, 
landed in Spain, where they continued many years, having 
greatly increased and multiplied. Thence, a thousand and two 
years after the Egyptians were lost in the Red Sea, they passed 
into Ireland, and the district of Dalrieta.* At that period, Bru- 
tus, who first exercised the consular office, reigned over the 
Romans ; and the state, which before was governed by regal 
power, was afterwards ruled, during four hundred and forty- 
seven years, by consuls, tribunes of the people, and dictators. 

The Britons came to Britain in the third age of the world j 
and in the fourth, the Scots took possession of Ireland. 

The Britons who, suspecting no hostilities, were un- 
provided with the means of defence, were unanimously and 
incessantly attacked, both by the Scots from the west, and 
by the Picts from the north. A long interval after this, the 
Romans obtained the empire of the world. 

§ 16. From the first arrival of the Saxons into Britain, 
to the fourth year of king Mermenus. are computed four 
hundred and twenty-eight years ; from the nativity of our 
Lord to the coming of St. Patrick among the Scots, four 
hundred and five years ; from the death of St. Patrick to 
that of St. Bridget, forty years; and from the birth of 
Columcillet to the death of St. Bridget four years.J 

• North-western part of Antrim in Ulster. + V. K. Columba. 

£ Some MSS. add, the beginning of the calculation is 23 cycles of 19 


§ 17. I have learned another account of this Brutus from 
the ancient books of our ancestors.* After the deluge, the 
three sons of Nonh. severally occupied three different parts 
of the earth: Shem extended his borders into Asia, Ham 
into Africa., and Japheth into Europe. 

The first man that dwelt in Europe was Alanus, with his 
three sons, Hisicion, Armenon, and Neugio. Hisicion had 
four sons, Francus, Romanus, Alamanus, and Brutus. 
Armenon had five sons, Gothus, Valagothus, Cibidua 
Burgundus, and Longobardus. Neugio had three sons, 
Vandalus, Saxo, and Boganus. From Hisicion arose four 
nations — the Franks, the Latins, the Germans,. and Britons : 
from Armenon, the Gothi, Valagothi, Cibidi, Burgundi, and 
Longobardi : from Neugio, the Bogari, Vandali, Saxones, 
and Tarincgi. The whole of Europe was subdivided into 
these tribes. 

Alanus is said to have been the son of Fethuir ;*f Fethuir, 
the son of Ogomuin, who was the son of Thoi ; Thoi was 
the son of Boibus, Boibus of Semion, Semion of Mair, 
Mair of Ecthactus, Ecthactus of Aurthack, Aurthack of 
Ethec, Ethec of Ooth, Ooth of Aber, Aber of Ra, Ra of 
Esraa, Esraa of Hisrau, Hisrau of Bath, Bath of Jobath, 
Jobath of Joham, Joham of Japheth, Japheth of Noah, 
Noah of Lamech, Lamech of Mathusalem, Mathusalem of 
Enoch, Enoch of Jared, Jared of Malalehel, Malalehel of 
Cainan, Cainan of Enos, Enos of Seth, Seth of Adam, and 
Adam was formed by the living God. We have obtained 
this information respecting the original inhabitants of Britain 
from ancient tradition. 

§ 18. The Britons were thus called from Brutus: Brutus 
was the son of Hisicion, Hisicion was the son of Alanus, 
Alanus was the son of Rhea Silvia, Rhea Silvia was the 
daughter of Numa Pompilius, Numa was the son of 
Ascanius, Ascanius of Eneas, Eneas of Anchises, Anchises 
of Troius, Troius of Dardanus, Dardanus of Flisa, Flisa of 

years from the incarnation of our Lord to the arrival of St. Patrick in 
Ireland, and they make 438 years. And from the arrival of St. Patrick 
to the cycle of 19 years in which we live are 2*2 cycles, which make 421 

* This proves the tradition of Brutus to be older than Geoffrey or 
Tyssilio, unless these notices of Brutus have been interpolated in the origi- 
nal work of Nennius. + This genealogy is different in almost alJ the MSS. 


J train, Juuin of Japheth; but Japheth had seven sons; 
from the first, named Gomer, descended the Galli ; from the 
second, Magog, the Scythi and Gothi; from the third, 
Madian, the Medi; from the fourth, Juuan, the Greeks; 
from the fifth, Tubal, arose the Hebrei, Hispani, and Itali ; 
from the sixth, Mosoch, sprung the Cappadoces; and 
from the seventh, named Tiras, descended the Thracesr 
these are the sons of Japheth, the son of Noah, the son of 

§ 19.* The Romans having obtained the dominion of the 
world, sent legates or deputies to the Britons to demand of 
them hostages and tribute, which they received from all 
other countries and islands ; but they, fierce, disdainful, and 
haughty, treated the legation with contempt. 

Then Julius Caesar, the first who had acquired absolute 
power at Rome, highly incensed against the Britons, sailed 
with sixty vessels to the mouth of the Thames, where they 
suffered shipwreck whilst he fought against Dolobellus,t (the 
proconsul of the British king, who was called Belinus,| and 
who was the son of Minocannus who governed all the 
islands of the Tyrrhene Sea), and thus Julius Caesar 
returned home without victory, having had his soldiers slain, 
and his ships shattered. 

§ 20. But after three years he again appeared with a 
large army, and three hundred ships, at the mouth of the 
Thames, where he renewed hostilities. In this attempt 
many of his soldiers' and horses were killed ; for the same 
consul had placed iron pikes in the shallow part of the 
river, and this having been effected with so much skill and 
secrecy as to escape the notice of the Roman soldiers, did 
them considerable injury; thus Caesar was once more 
compelled to return without peace or victory. The Romans 
were, therefore, a third time sent against the Britons ; and 
under the command of Julius, defeated them near a place 
called Trinovantum [London], forty-seven years before the 
birth of Christ, and five thousand two hundred and twelve 
years from the creation. 

* Some MSS. add, I will now return to the point from which I made 
this digression. 

f There is here some corruption or defect in the original. See Geoffrey 
of Monmouth, p. 139 of this volume. J V, R. Casaibelanus. 


Julius was the first exercising supreme power over the 
Romans who invaded Britain : in honour of him the Romans 
decreed the fifth month to be called after his name. He was 
assassinated in the Curia, in the ides of March, and Octa- 
vius Augustus succeeded to the empire of the world. Ho 
was the only emperor who received tribute from the Britons, 
according to the following verse of Virgil : 

" Purpurea intexti tollunt aulsea Britanni." 

§ 21. The second after him, who came into Britain, was 
the emperor Claudius, who reigned forty-seven* years after 
the birth of Christ. He carried with him war and devasta- 
tion ; and, though not without loss of men, he at length con- 
quered Britain. He next sailed to the Orkneys, which he 
likewise conquered, and afterwards rendered tributary. No 
tribute was in his time received from the Britons ; but it 
was paid to British emperors. He reigned thirteen years 
and eight months. His monument is to be seen at Moguntia 
(among the Lombards), where he died in his way to Rome. 

§ 22. After the birth of Christ, one hundred and sixty- 
seven years, king Lucius, with all the chiefs of the British 
people, received baptism, in consequence of a legation sent 
by the Roman emperors and pope Evaristus.* 

§ 23. Severus was the third emperor who passed the sea to 
Britain, where, to protect the provinces recovered from 
barbaric incursions, he ordered a wall and a rampart to be 
made between the Britons, the Scots, and the Picts, extend- 
ing across the island from sea to sea, in length one hundred 
and thirty- three f miles : and it is called in the British 
language, GwaLJ Moreover, he ordered it to be made be- 

* V. R. Eucharistus. A marginal note in the Arundel MS. adds, " He 
is wrong, because the first year of Evaristus was a.d. 79, whereas the 
first year of Eleutherius, whom he ought to have named, was a.d. 161." 
Usher says, that in one MS. of Nennius he found the name of Eleutherius. 
See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 10. t V. R. Thirty-two. 

£ Or, the Wall. One MS. here adds, " The above-mentioned Severus 
constructed it of rude workmanship in length 132 miles ; i. e. from Pen- 
guaul, which village is called in Scottish Cenail, in English Peneltun, to 
the mouth of the river Cluth and Cairpentaloch, where this wall terminates ; 
but it was of no avail. The emperor Carausius afterwards rebuilt it, and 
fortified it with seven castles between the two mouths: he built a! so a 
round house of polished stones on the banks of the river Carun [Car on] r 
he likewise erected a triumphal arch, on which he inscribed his own i 
in memory of his victory." 


ween the Britons, ana the Ticts and Scots ; for the Scots 
from the west, and the Picts from the north, unanimously 
made war. against the Britons ; but were at peace among- 
themselves. Not long after Severus dies in Britain. 

§ 2*. The fourth was the emperor and tyrant, Carausi is, 
who, incensed at the murder of Severus, passed into Britain, 
and attended by the leaders of the Roman people, severely 
avenged upon the chiefs and rulers of the Britons, the cause 
of Severus.* 

§ 25. The fifth was Constantius the father of Constantine 
the Great. He died in Britain ; his sepulchre, as it appears 
by the inscription on his tomb, is still seen near the city 
named Cair segont (near Carnarvon). Upon the pavement of 
the above-mentioned city he sowed three seeds of gold, silver, 
and brass, that no poor person might ever be found in it. It 
is also called Minmanton.f 

§ 26. Maximianus $ was the sixth emperor that ruled in 
Britain. It was in his time that consuls § began, and that 
the appellation of Caesar was discontinued : at this period 
also, St. Martin became celebrated for his virtues and mira- 
cles, and held a conversation with him. 

§ 27. The seventh emperor was Maximus. He withdrew 
from Britain with all his military force, slew Gratian, the 
king of the Romans, and obtained the sovereignty of all 
Europe. Unwilling to send back his warlike companions tc 
their wives, children, and possessions in Britain, he conferred 
upon them numerous districts from the lake on the summit 
of Mons Jovis, to the city called Cant Guic, and to the 
western Tumulus, that is, to Cruc Occident. || These are 
the Armoric Britons, and they remain there to the present 

* This passage is corrupt, the meaning is briefly given in the translation . 

+ V. R. Mirmantum, Mirmantun, Minmanto, Minimantone. The Segon- 
Hum of Antoninus, situated on a small river named Seioiit, near Carnarvon. 

J This is an inaccuracy of Nennius ; Maximus and Maximianus were 
one and the some person ; or rather no such person as Maximianus ever 
reigned in Britain. 

§ Geoffrey of Monmouth gives the title of consul to several British gene- 
rals who lived after this time. It is not unlikely that the town, name, and 
dignity, still lingered in the province after the Romans were gone, particu- 
larly as the cites of Britain maintained for a time a species of independ- 

|| This district, in modern language, extended from the great St. Ber- 
nard in Piedmont to Cantavic in Picardy, and from Picardy to the western 
©oast of France. 

A.ft. 381-422.] THE ROMAN DEPUTIES BLAIN. 395 

day. In consequence of their absence, Britain being over- 
come by foreign nations, the lawful heirs were cast out, till 
God interposed with his assistance. We are informed by 
the tradition of our ancestors that seven emperors went into 
Britain, though the Romans affirm there were nine. 

The eighth was another Severus, who lived occasionally 
in Britain, and sometimes at Borne, where he died. 

The ninth was Constantius who reigned sixteen years in 
Britain, and, according to report, was treacherously murdered 
in the seventeenth year of his reign. 

§ 28. Thus, agreeably to the account given by the Britons, 
the Romans governed them four hundred and nine years. 

After this, the Britons despised the authority of the Romans, 
equally refusing to pay them tribute, or to receive their kings ; 
nor durst the Romans any longer attempt the government 
of a country, the natives of which massacred their deputies. 

§ 29. We must now return to the tyrant Maximus. Gra- 
tian, with his brother Valentinian, reigned seven years. 
Ambrose, bishop of Milan, was then eminent for his skill in 
the dogmata of the Catholics. Valentinianus and Theodo- 
sius reigned eight years. At that time a synod was held at 
Constantinople, attended by three hundred and fifty of the 
fathers, and in which all heresies were condemned. Jerome, 
the presbyter of Bethlehem, was then universally celebrated. 
Whilst Gratian exercised supreme dominion over the world, 
Maximus, in a sedition of the soldiers, was saluted emperor 
in Britain, and soon after crossed the sea to Gaul. At Paris, 
by the treachery of Mellobaudes, his master of the horse, 
Gratian was defeated, and fleeing to Lyons, was taken and 
put to death ; Maximus afterwards associated his son Victor 
in the government. 

Martin, distinguished for his great virtues, was at this 
period bishop of Tours. After a considerable space of time, 
Maximus was divested of royal power by the consuls Valen- 
tinianus and Theodosius, and sentenced to be beheaded at 
the third mile-stone from Aquileia : in the same year also his 
son Victor was killed in Gaul by Arbogastes, five thousand 
mx hundred and ninety years from the creation of the world. 

§ 30. Thrice were the Roman deputies put to death by 
the Britons, and yet these, when harassed by the incursions 
of the barbarous nations, viz. of the Scots and Picts, earnestly 


solicited the aid of the Romans. To give effect to their en- 
treaties, ambassadors were sent, who made their entrance 
with impressions of deep sorrow, having their heads covered 
with dust, and carrying rich presents to expiate the murder 
of the deputies. They were favourably received by the con- 
suls, and swore submission to the Roman yoke, with what- 
ever severity it might be imposed. 

The Romans, therefore, came with a powerful army to thA 
assistance of the Britons ; and having appointed over them 
a ruler, and settled the government, returned to Rome : and 
this took place alternately during the space of three hundred 
and forty-eight years. The Britons, however, from the 
oppression of the empire, again massacred the Roman depu- 
ties, and again petitioned for succour. Once more the 
Romans undertook the government of the Britons, and assisted 
them in repelling their neighbours ; and, after having ex- 
hausted the country of its gold, silver, brass, honey, and 
costly vestments, and having besides received rich gifts, they 
returned in great triumph to Rome. 

§ 31. After the above-said war between the Britons and 
Romans, the assassination of their rulers, and the victory of 
Maximus, who slew Gratian, and the termination of the 
Roman power in Britain, they were in alarm forty years. 

Vortigern then reigned in Britain. In his time, the 
natives had cause of dread, not only from the inroads of the 
Scots and Picts, but also from the Romans, and their appre- 
hensions of Ambrosius.* 

In the meantime, t hree vesse ls, exiled from German y, 
arri ved i n Britajn^, They were commanded by Horsa and 
IleirgtgtJ*BrotIiers, and sons of Wihtgils. Wihtgils was the 
son of Witta ; Witta of Wecta ; Wecta of Woden ; Woden 
of Frithowald ; Frithowald of Frithuwulf ; Frithuwulf of 
Finn ; Finn of Godwulf ; Godwulf of Geat, who, as they 
say, was the son of a god, not j" of the omnipotent God and 

j * These words relate evidently to some cause of dispute between the 

/ Romans, Ambrosius, and Vortigern. Vortigern is said to have been sove- 

' reign of the Dimetee, and Ambrosius son to the king of the Damnonii. The 

latter was half a Roman by descent, and naturally supported the Roman 

interest : the former was entirely a Briton, and as naturally seconded by the 

original Britons. See Whitaker's Manchester, b. ii. c. 2. 

t V. R. not the God of gods, the Amen, the Lord of Hosts, but one of 
their idols which they worshipped. 

A.0. 429-447.] PREACHING Or ST. GBRMANUS. 397 

our Lord Jesus Christ (who before the beginning of the 
world, was with the Father and the Holy Spirit, co-eternal 
and of the same substance, and who, in compassion to human 
nature, disdained not to assume the form of a servant), but 
the offspring of one of their idols, and whom, blinded by 
some demon, they worshipped according to the custom of the 
heathen. Vortigern received them as friends, anddeiiy^rfid 
u p to them the island which IB hrtheir language called 
Thanet, and, by the Britons, Ruym.* Gratianus JEquantius 
at that time reigned in Rome. The Saxons were received 
by Vortigern, fottrjj\ipjjgji.»iftttd feTty*? ftVP - n . J® ars &f ter the 
passion of Christ, and,f according to the tradition of our 
ancestors, from the period of their first arrival in Britain, 
to the first year of the reign of king Edmund, five hundred 
and forty-two years ; and to that in which we now write, 
which is the fifth of his reign, five hundred and forty-seven 

§ 32. At-that time^L^Germanus, distinguished for his 
numerous' virtues, came to preach in Britain : by his ministry 
many were saved ; but many likewise died unconverted, (jl 
the various miracles which God enabled him to perform, I 
shall here mention only a few : I shall first advert to that 
concerning an iniquitous and tyrannical king, named Benlh'4 
The holy man, informed of his wicked conduct, hastened to 
visit him, for the purpose of remonstrating with him. When 
the man of God, with his attendants, arrived at the gate of 
the city, they were respectfully received by the keeper of it, 
who came out and saluted them. Him they commissioned to 
communicate their intention to the king, who returned a 
harsh answer, declaring, with an oath, that although they 
remained there a year, they should not enter the city. While 
waiting for an answer, the evening came on, and they knew 
not where to go. At length, came one of the king's servants, 
who bowing himself before the man of God, announced the 

* Sometimes called Ruoichin, Ruith-in, or u river island," separated 
from the rest of Kent and the mainland of Britain by the estuary of the 
Wantsum, which, though now a small brook, was formerly navigable for 
large vessels, and in Bede's time was three stadia broad, and fordable only 
at two places. See Bede's Eccles. Hist. p. 37, note. 

+ The rest of this sentence is omitted in some of the MSS. 

X King of Powys. V. R. Benli in the district of Ial (in Derbyshire)) 
in the district of Dalrie*aj Belinus; Beluni; and Benty. 



words of the tyrant, inviting them, at the same time, to hia 
own house, to which they went, and were kindly received. 
It happened, however, that he had no cattle, except one cow 
and a calf, the latter of which, urged by generous hospitality* 
to his guests, he killed, dressed, and set before them. But 
holy St. Germanus ordered his companions not to break a 
bone of the calf ; and, the next morning, it was found alive 
uninjured, and standing by its mother. 

§ 33. Early the same day, they again went to the gate of 
the city, to solicit audience of the wicked king ; and, whilst 
engaged in fervent prayer they were waiting for admission, a 
man, covered with sweat, came out, and prostrated himself 
before them. Then St. Germanus, addressing him, said, 
" Dost thou believe in the Holy Trinity ? " To which the 
man having replied, " I do believe," he baptized, and kissed 
him, saying, " Go in peace ; within this hour thou shalt die : 
the angels of God are waiting for thee in the air 5 with them 
thou shalt ascend to that God in whom thou hast believed." 
He, overjoyed, entered the city, and being met by the prefect, 
was seized, bound, and conducted before the tyrant, who 
having passed sentence upon him, he was immediately put to 
death ; for it was a law of this wicked king, that whoever 
was not at his labour before sun-rising should be beheaded in 
the citadel. In the meantime, St. Germanus, with his attend- 
ants, waited the whole day before the gate, without obtaining 
admission to the tyrant. 

§ 34. The man above-mentioned, however, remained with 
them. "Take care," said St. Germanus to him, "that none 
of your friends remain this night within these walls. Upon 
this he hastily entered the city, brought out his nine sons, 
and with them retired to the house where he had exercised 
such geiTerous hospitality. Here St. Germanus ordered them 
to continue, fasting ; and when the gates were shut, "Watch," 
said he, " and whatever shall happen in the citadel, turn not 
thither your eyes ; but pray without ceasing, and invoke the 
protection of the true God." And, behold, early in the 
night, fire fell from heaven, and burned the city, together with 
all those who were with the tyrant, so that not one escaped ; 
and that citadel has never been rebuilt even to this day. 

§ 35. The following day, the hospitable man who had . 
been converted by the preaching of St. Germanus, was j 

a-xk ttfr-456.] VORTIGERN AND HENGIST. 399 

baptized, with his sons, and all the inhabitants of that part 
of the country ; and St. Germanus blessed him, saying, " a 
king shall not be wanting of thy seed for ever." The name 
of this person is Catel Drunluc :* " from henceforward thou 
shalt be a king all the days cf thy life." Thus was fulfilled 
the prophecy of the Psalmist : " He raiseth up the poor out 
of the dust, and lifteth up the needy out of the dunghill." 
And agreeably to the prediction of St. Germanus, from a 
servant he became a king : all his sons were kings, and from 
their offspring the whole country of Powys has been governed 
to this day. 

§ 36. After the Saxons had continued some time in the 
island of Thanet, Vortigern promised to supply them with 
clothing and provision, on condition they would engage to 
fight against the enemies of his country. But the barbarians 
having Jgreatly increased in number, the Britons- became 
incapable of fulfilling fheir engagement; and when the 
ISaxons, according to the promise they had received, claimed 
a supply of provisions and clothing, the Britons replied, 
" Your number is increased ; your assistance is now un- 
necessary ; you may, therefore, return home, for we can 
no longer support you ; " and hereupon they began to devise 
means of breaking the peace between them. 

§ 37. But Hengist, in whom united craft and penetration, 
perceiving he. had to act with an ignorant king, and a fluctu- 
ating people, incapable of opposing much resistance, replied 
to Vortigern, " We are, indeed, few in number ; but, if you 
will give us leave, we will send to our country for an 
additional number of forces, with whom we will fight for you 
and your subjects." Vortigern assenting to this proposal, 
messengers were despatched to Scythia, where selecting a 
number of warlike troops, they returned with sixteen vessels, 
bringing with them the beautiful daughtex-oLHengist. And 
now the Saxon chief prepared-^TTentertainment, to which he 
invited the king, his officers, an<L£eretic, his interpreter, 
having previously enjoined his daughter to serve them so 
profusely with wine and ale, that they might soon become 
intoxicated. This plan succeeded ; and Vortigern, at the 
instigation of the devil, and enamoured with the beauty 

* Or Cadell Deymllug, rrince of the Vale Royal and the upper pan 
of Pcwyn. 



of the damsel, demanded her, through the medium of his 
interpreter, of the father, promising to give for her whatever 
he should ask. Then Hengist, who had already consulted 
with the elders who attended him of the Oghgul* race, 
demanded for his daughter the province, called in English, 
Centland, in British, Ceint, (Kent.) This cession was made 
without the knowledge of the king, Guoyrancgonus,! who 
then reigned in Kent, and who experienced no inconsiderable 
share of grief, from seeing his kingdom thus clandestinely, 
fraudulently, and imprudently resigned to foreigners. Thus 
the maid was delivered up to the king, who slept with her, 
and loved her exceedingly. 
'S § 38. Hengist, after this, said to Vortigern, " I will be to 
you both a father and an adviser ; despise not my counsels, 
and you shall have no reason to fear being conquered by any 
man or any nation whatever ; for the people of my country 
are strong, warlike, and robust : if you approve, I will send 
for my son and his brother, both valiant men, who at my 
invitation will fight against the Scots, and you can give them 
the countries in the north, near the wall called Gual." J The 
incautious sovereign having assented to this, Octa and Ebusa 
arrived with forty ships. In these they sailed round the 
country of the Picts, laid waste the Orkneys, and took 
possession of many regions, even to the Pictisn confines. § 

But Hengist continued, by degrees, sending for ships from 
his own country, so that some islands whence they came were 
left without inhabitants ; and whilst his people were increas- 
ing in power and number, they came to the above-named 
province of Kent. 

§ 39. In the meantime, Vortigern, as if desirous 'of add- 
ing to the evils he had already occasioned, majji ed his ow n 
dau ghte r, b